Emotional Suppression Mediates the Relation Between Adverse Life Events and Adolescent Suicide: Implications for Prevention
- First Online:
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.
KeywordsAdolescence Suicidal ideation Suicide attempts Adverse life events Emotional suppression
- Campbell, T. C., & Duffy, M. (1998). Dropping out of secondary school: A descriptive discriminant analysis of early dropouts, late dropouts, alternative completers, and stayins. Research in the Schools, 5, 1–10.Google Scholar
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). Retrieved 13 September 2011 from http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2009. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 59(SS-5).Google Scholar
- Dube, S. R., Anda, R. F., Felitti, V. J., Chapman, D. P., Williamson, D. F., & Giles, W. H. (2001). Childhood abuse, household dysfunction, and the risk of attempted suicide throughout the life span: Findings from the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 286, 3089–3096.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Felitti, V. J., Anda, R. F., Nordenberg, D., Williamson, D. F., Spitz, A. M., Edwards, V., et al. (1998). Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults: The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 14, 245–258.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Hayes, S. C., Strosahl, K., Wilson, K. G., Bissett, R. T., Pistorello, J., Toarmino, D., et al. (2004). Measuring experiential avoidance: A preliminary test of a working model. Psychological Record, 54, 553–578.Google Scholar
- Layne, C. M., Saltzman, W. R., Poppleton, L., Burlingame, G. M., Pašalić, A., Durkavović, E., et al. (2008). Effectiveness of a school-based group psychotherapy program for war-exposed adolescents: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 47, 1048–1062.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- MacKinnon, D. P. (2008). Introduction to statistical mediation analysis. New York: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Miller, A., Rathus, J., & Linehan, M. (2007). Dialectical behavior therapy with suicidal adolescents. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
- Peduzzi, P., Concato, J., Kemper, E., Holford, TR., Feinstein, A. R. (1996). A simulation study of the number of events per variable in logistic regression analysis. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 49, 1373–1379.Google Scholar
- Posner, K., Brent, D., Lucas, C., Gould, M. S., Stanley, B., Brown, G. K., et al. (2008). Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS), unpublished manuscript. New York State Psychiatric Institute.Google Scholar
- Posner, K., Brown, G., Stanley, B., Brent, D. A., Yershova, K. V., Oquendo, M. A., et al. (2011). The Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale: Initial validity and internal consistency findings from three multisite studies with adolescents and adults. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 168, 1266–1277.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Reynolds, W. M. (2002). Reynolds Adolescent Depression Scale—Second Edition: Professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.Google Scholar
- U.S. Census Bureau. (2010). State & County Quickfacts: Flint, MI. Retrieved 19 March 2012 from http://quickfacts.census.gov.
- U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2010). Librarians. Databases, tables, and calculators by subject, 2002–2012. Retrieved March 19, 2012, from http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LAUMT26224203?data_tool.
- Vaughn, M. G., Wallace, J. M., Davis, L. E., Fernandes, G. T., & Howard, M. O. (2008). Variations in mental health problems, substance use, and delinquency between African American and Caucasian juvenile offenders. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 52, 311–329.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar