Self-Compassion and Suicidal Behavior in College Students: Serial Indirect Effects Via Depression and Wellness Behaviors

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Objective: College students may be at heightened risk for suicide and suicidal behavior due to maladaptive cognitive-emotional factors and failure to practice basic health behaviors. However, self-compassion and wellness behaviors may protect against risk. The relation between self-compassion and suicidal behavior and the contributing roles of depressive symptoms and wellness behaviors was examined. Participants: Participants were 365 undergraduate students. Data were collected in April 2015. Methods: A cross-sectional, survey design was employed. Participants completed measures assessing self-compassion, depressive symptoms, wellness behaviors, and suicidal behavior. Serial mediation analyses were conducted covarying age, sex, and ethnicity. Results: Self-compassion was inversely related to suicidal behavior, and this relationship was serially mediated by depressive symptoms and wellness behaviors. Conclusions: Self-compassion may protect against suicidal behavior, in part, due to reduced depressive symptoms and heightened engagement in wellness behaviors. Individual and campus-wide strategies promoting self-compassion and wellness behaviors may reduce suicide risk on college campuses.