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Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Program

Psychology

Date of Award

8-2018

Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Jameson K. Hirsch

Committee Members

Jon R. Webb, Diana Morelen, Stacey Williams

Abstract

Suicide is a significant public health concern worldwide and the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Risk factors for suicide include depression, anxiety, hopelessness, and previous suicide attempts, among others. Some vulnerable groups may have unique risk factors that exacerbate suicide risk; for instance, college students experience academic stress, and individuals with chronic illnesses, such as fibromyalgia and cancer, face persistent health complications. However, protective characteristics, such as self-compassion, may reduce suicide risk. Comprised of self-kindness, mindfulness, and common humanity, self-compassion is beneficially associated with mental and physical health, and to the task of suicide prevention. As such, we examined the relation between self-compassion and suicidal behavior, and the potential parallel mediating effects of depression, anxiety, and hopelessness across four samples (community, N = 632; collegiate, N = 338; fibromyalgia, N = 508; cancer, N = 241). Across all four samples, the combined effect of depression, anxiety, and hopelessness mediated the relation between self-compassion and suicidal behavior. Our findings provide support for the notion that self-compassion has a beneficial association with suicidal behavior directly, as well as indirectly via its influence on the suicide risk factors of depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. Increasing self-compassion through interventions such as Compassion-Focused Therapy and Mindful Self-Compassion may not only increase self-compassion, but may also facilitate adaptive coping, particularly in times of distress, that ameliorates symptoms of psychopathology and suicide risk. Future prospective, longitudinal studies, and randomized control trials, are needed to examine causal effects of self-compassion on emotional dysfunction and suicidal behavior.

Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Only

Copyright

Copyright by the authors.

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