Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Jameson K. Hirsch

Committee Members

Diana Morelen, Julia Dodd, Stacey Williams


Suicide is a significant public health concern and ranks as the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Veterans are at a disproportionately higher risk for suicide, due to risk factors such as exposure to trauma and its negative cognitive-emotional sequalae, such as PTSD, shame, and guilt. However, not all veterans exposed to traumatic events, or who experience shame and guilt, die by suicide, perhaps as a result of the presence of individual-level protective factors such as self-compassion. Conceptualized as self-kindness, mindfulness and common humanity, self-compassion is beneficially associated with mental and physical health, including reduced suicide risk. We examined the potential serial mediating effects of shame/guilt, separated into two models, and PTSD in the relation between self-compassion and suicide risk in a sample of U.S. veterans (N = 317). Participants in our IRB-approved study provided informed consent and completed the Self-Compassion Scale - Short Form, Differential Emotions Scale-IV, PTSD Checklist-Military Version (PCL-M) for DSM-IV, and Suicidal Behaviors Questionnaire - Revised (SBQ-R). Supporting hypotheses, shame/guilt and PTSD, and PTSD alone, mediated the relation between self-compassion and suicide risk, but shame/guilt alone did not. Our results remained significant when covarying depressive symptoms. Therapeutic interventions such as Mindful Self-Compassion and Compassion-Focused Therapy may increase self-compassion and ameliorate negative cognitive-emotional sequelae, including suicide risk, in veterans.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.