Spirituality and Suicidal Behavior: The Mediating Role of Self-forgiveness and Psychache

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Growing evidence for the salubrious association of spirituality with physical and mental health related outcomes has led to the consideration of spirituality as a protective factor against suicidal behavior. Although support for this basic association is robust, particularly in the context of religious belief and attendance, spirituality has yet to be explored as it relates to psychache—intense, unrelenting psychological pain. Additionally, self-forgiveness has emerged as an important protective factor against suicidal behavior, but has not been explored in the context of psychache. Following a model developed by Webb, Hirsch, and Toussaint (2015), we examine the protective role of spirituality on suicidal behavior, based on three dimensions of spirituality: ritualistic, theistic, and existential. Cross-sectional data were collected from the self-report surveys of 262 individuals drawn from the larger U.S. community. Results suggest that existential spirituality may be the dimension of spirituality most robustly associated with suicidal behavior. Further, self-forgiveness and psychache were found to be mediators of the relationship between existential spirituality and suicidal behavior. Synthesis of the findings from this study, and the implications thereof, are discussed.