Prevention Science

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 177–185

Emotional Suppression Mediates the Relation Between Adverse Life Events and Adolescent Suicide: Implications for Prevention

  • Julie B. Kaplow
  • Polly Y. Gipson
  • Adam G. Horwitz
  • Bianca N. Burch
  • Cheryl A. King


Suicidal ideation substantially increases the odds of future suicide attempts, and suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents. A history of adverse life events has been linked with future suicidal ideation and attempts, although studies examining potential mediating variables have been scarce. One probable mediating mechanism is how the individual copes with adverse life events. For example, certain coping strategies appear to be more problematic than others in increasing future psychopathology, and emotional suppression in particular has been associated with poor mental health outcomes in adults and children. However, no studies to date have examined the potential mediating role of emotional suppression in the relation between adverse life events and suicidal thoughts/behavior in adolescence. The goal of the current study was to examine emotional suppression as a mediator in the relation between childhood adversity and future suicidal thoughts/behaviors in youth. A total of 625 participants, aged 14–19 years, seeking ER services were administered measures assessing adverse life events, coping strategies, suicidal ideation in the last 2 weeks, and suicide attempts in the last month. The results suggest that emotional suppression mediates the relation between adversity and both (1) suicidal thoughts and (2) suicide attempts above and beyond demographic variables and depressive symptoms. This study has important implications for interventions aimed at preventing suicidal thoughts and behavior in adolescents with histories of adversity.


Adolescence Suicidal ideation Suicide attempts Adverse life events Emotional suppression 


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julie B. Kaplow
    • 1
  • Polly Y. Gipson
    • 1
  • Adam G. Horwitz
    • 1
  • Bianca N. Burch
    • 1
  • Cheryl A. King
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Michigan Depression CenterAnn ArborUSA

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