Forgiveness, Depression, and Suicidal Behavior Among a Diverse Sample of College Students

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Depression and suicide are significant public health concerns for college-age young adults. Meaning-based characteristics, such as forgiveness, a voluntary coping process involving offering, feeling, or seeking a change from negative to positive cognitions, behaviors, and affect toward a transgressor, may buffer such poor mental health outcomes. Utilizing mediation analyses, we examined cross-sectional associations between forgiveness, depression, and suicidal behavior in a diverse student sample reporting mild to severe depressive symptoms. The effect of self-forgiveness on suicidal behavior was fully mediated by depression; self-forgiveness was associated with depression and, in turn, with suicidal behavior. Forgiveness of others was directly associated with suicidal behavior. Prospective research is needed, yet self and other-forgiveness may be appropriate targets for promotion in suicide prevention efforts.