Project Title

Religious Attendance, Surrender to God, and Suicide Risk: Mediating Pathways of Feeling Forgiven by God and Psychopathology

Authors' Affiliations

Kelley C. Pugh, B.A., Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. Loren Toussaint, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Luther College, Decorah, IA. Jon R. Webb, Ph.D., Department of Community, Family, and Addiction Sciences, College of Human Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX. Andrea D. Clements, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. Jameson K. Hirsch, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN.

Location

AUDITORIUM ROOM 137B

Start Date

4-12-2019 2:00 PM

End Date

4-12-2019 2:15 PM

Faculty Sponsor’s Department

Psychology

Name of Project's Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Jameson Hirsch

Type

Oral Presentation

Classification of First Author

Graduate Student-Master’s

Project's Category

Psychology

Abstract Text

Suicide is a significant public health concern and the second leading cause of death for college-age students in the United States. Although psychopathology (e.g., stress, anxiety, and depression) contributes to suicide risk, individual-level protective characteristics may be preventative. For instance, involvement in religious communities is inversely associated with suicide risk. Other factors, like surrendering to God or a deity (i.e., relinquishing control to God, entrusting one’s life to God’s purposes), are not well understood, but may also be beneficial. Further, psycho-spiritual processes, such as forgiveness, may help to explain the linkage between religious attendance/surrender and suicide.

At the bivariate level, we hypothesized that religious attendance (RA), surrender to God (STG), and feeling forgiven by God (FFG) would be positively related; that depression, anxiety, stress, and suicide risk (SR) would be positively related; and that religious and psychopathological variables would be inversely related. In multivariate analyses, we hypothesized RA and STG would be negatively associated with suicide risk, and that FFG (1storder mediator) and psychopathology (i.e., stress, depression, and anxiety; 2ndorder mediators) would mediate this linkage, such that greater religious attendance/surrender would be related to increased FFG and, in turn, to less psychopathology and suicidality.

Students from a rural southeastern university (N=249) completed self-report measures, including: a single-item measure of RA; the Surrender to God Scale; Brief Multidimensional Measure of Religiousness/Spirituality – forgiveness items; Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scales; and, Suicide Behaviors Questionnaire – Revised. Pearson-product moment bivariate correlations were utilized to assess for associations between, and independence of, study variables. Multivariate mediation analyses were conducted using Hayes’ PROCESS macro in SPSS, utilizing a 10,000 bootstrapping sample and covarying age, race, and sex.

All bivariate hypotheses were supported, in expected directions (p<.001). All multivariate hypotheses in the RA models were supported, such that a total effect, but not an indirect effect was observed for depression (β=-.036, SE=.009,t=-4.104, p<.001), anxiety (β=-.036, SE=.009,t=-4.104, p<.001), and stress (β=-.036, SE=.009,t=-4.104, p<.001), indicating mediation. All hypotheses in STG models were supported, such that a total effect, but not an indirect effect was observed for depression (β=-.092, SE=.016,t=-5.700, p<.001), anxiety (β=-.092, SE=.016,t=-5.700, p<.001), and stress (β=-.092, SE=.016,t=-5.700, p<.001), indicating mediation. In all models, specific indirect effects occurred through the FFG pathway, suggesting the importance of intrinsic, relational aspects of religiosity for the reduction of suicide risk. A specific indirect effect between STG and SR through stress was observed, suggesting that relinquishing control to a “higher power” may be beneficial for stress reduction. Our novel findings highlight several potential mechanisms of action linking religious factors and SR, and may have clinical implications. Therapeutic promotion of religious involvement, when appropriate, and fostering a sense of forgiveness (e.g., via cognitive behavioral therapy, REACH model of forgiveness) may aid in the reduction of psychopathology and suicide risk in the collegiate population.

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Apr 12th, 2:00 PM Apr 12th, 2:15 PM

Religious Attendance, Surrender to God, and Suicide Risk: Mediating Pathways of Feeling Forgiven by God and Psychopathology

AUDITORIUM ROOM 137B

Suicide is a significant public health concern and the second leading cause of death for college-age students in the United States. Although psychopathology (e.g., stress, anxiety, and depression) contributes to suicide risk, individual-level protective characteristics may be preventative. For instance, involvement in religious communities is inversely associated with suicide risk. Other factors, like surrendering to God or a deity (i.e., relinquishing control to God, entrusting one’s life to God’s purposes), are not well understood, but may also be beneficial. Further, psycho-spiritual processes, such as forgiveness, may help to explain the linkage between religious attendance/surrender and suicide.

At the bivariate level, we hypothesized that religious attendance (RA), surrender to God (STG), and feeling forgiven by God (FFG) would be positively related; that depression, anxiety, stress, and suicide risk (SR) would be positively related; and that religious and psychopathological variables would be inversely related. In multivariate analyses, we hypothesized RA and STG would be negatively associated with suicide risk, and that FFG (1storder mediator) and psychopathology (i.e., stress, depression, and anxiety; 2ndorder mediators) would mediate this linkage, such that greater religious attendance/surrender would be related to increased FFG and, in turn, to less psychopathology and suicidality.

Students from a rural southeastern university (N=249) completed self-report measures, including: a single-item measure of RA; the Surrender to God Scale; Brief Multidimensional Measure of Religiousness/Spirituality – forgiveness items; Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scales; and, Suicide Behaviors Questionnaire – Revised. Pearson-product moment bivariate correlations were utilized to assess for associations between, and independence of, study variables. Multivariate mediation analyses were conducted using Hayes’ PROCESS macro in SPSS, utilizing a 10,000 bootstrapping sample and covarying age, race, and sex.

All bivariate hypotheses were supported, in expected directions (p<.001). All multivariate hypotheses in the RA models were supported, such that a total effect, but not an indirect effect was observed for depression (β=-.036, SE=.009,t=-4.104, p<.001), anxiety (β=-.036, SE=.009,t=-4.104, p<.001), and stress (β=-.036, SE=.009,t=-4.104, p<.001), indicating mediation. All hypotheses in STG models were supported, such that a total effect, but not an indirect effect was observed for depression (β=-.092, SE=.016,t=-5.700, p<.001), anxiety (β=-.092, SE=.016,t=-5.700, p<.001), and stress (β=-.092, SE=.016,t=-5.700, p<.001), indicating mediation. In all models, specific indirect effects occurred through the FFG pathway, suggesting the importance of intrinsic, relational aspects of religiosity for the reduction of suicide risk. A specific indirect effect between STG and SR through stress was observed, suggesting that relinquishing control to a “higher power” may be beneficial for stress reduction. Our novel findings highlight several potential mechanisms of action linking religious factors and SR, and may have clinical implications. Therapeutic promotion of religious involvement, when appropriate, and fostering a sense of forgiveness (e.g., via cognitive behavioral therapy, REACH model of forgiveness) may aid in the reduction of psychopathology and suicide risk in the collegiate population.