Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 483–496 | Cite as

Posttraumatic Stress and Suicidality Among Firefighters: The Moderating Role of Distress Tolerance

  • Brooke A. Bartlett
  • Charles Jardin
  • Colleen Martin
  • Jana K. Tran
  • Sam Buser
  • Michael D. Anestis
  • Anka A. VujanovicEmail author
Original Article


Firefighters report high rates of suicidality and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This investigation explored the moderating role of distress tolerance (DT) in the association between PTSD symptomatology and suicidality in firefighters. Covariates included trauma load, depressive symptom severity, gender, race, age, and education. The sample was comprised of 765 (94.0% male; Mage = 38.8, SD = 8.6) trauma-exposed firefighters who completed a questionnaire battery. Structural equation modeling was employed. PTSD symptom severity was significantly, positively associated with global suicide risk, suicidal ideation/attempt, frequency of suicidal ideation, lifetime threat of suicide, and perceived likelihood of future suicide attempts. Lower levels of DT were significantly associated with higher frequency of past-year suicidal ideation. Significant interactive effects were noted; firefighters with higher levels of PTSD symptom severity and low levels of DT had the highest levels of global suicide risk and perceived likelihood of future suicide attempt. Clinical and research implications are discussed.


Trauma PTSD Suicide Distress tolerance Firefighters 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Brooke A. Bartlett, Charles Jardin, Colleen Martin, Jana K. Tran, Sam Buser, Michael D. Anestis, & Anka A. Vujanovic declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Informed Consent

Participants who indicated that they were interested in participating (by clicking ‘yes’) were directed to the informed consent form. Once firefighters electronically signed off on the consent form, they were directed to the first page to begin completion of all online survey questionnaires. All procedures performed in the studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Research Involving Human and Animal Rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brooke A. Bartlett
    • 1
  • Charles Jardin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Colleen Martin
    • 3
  • Jana K. Tran
    • 4
  • Sam Buser
    • 4
  • Michael D. Anestis
    • 5
  • Anka A. Vujanovic
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Trauma and Stress Studies CenterUniversity of HoustonHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Durham VA Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Cincinnati VA Medical CenterCincinnatiUSA
  4. 4.Houston Fire DepartmentHoustonUSA
  5. 5.University of Southern MississippiHattiesburgUSA

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