Forgiveness and Suicidal Behavior in Veterans: Mediating Role of Posttraumatic Growth

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Suicide rates are higher in veterans compared to the general population, making up a disproportionate 22% of suicides reported annually in the U.S. One factor related to suicidal behavior among veterans is increased exposure to traumatic events. However, not all traumatized veterans engage in suicidal behavior, perhaps due to the presence of protective factors. One such factor, forgiveness (of self, others, and by God), conceptualized as a positive change in cognition, emotion, and behavior, toward a transgressor or transgression, may buffer against suicide risk by facilitating a “letting go” of experienced offenses, and by allowing individuals to respond to trauma in a meaningful way via posttraumatic growth (PTG). This premise has not been tested, however. We hypothesized that forgiveness and PTG would be positively related with each other, and negatively related to suicidal behaviors. We also hypothesized that PTG would mediate the association between forgiveness and suicidal behaviors, such that higher levels of forgiveness would be associated with greater PTG and, in turn, to less suicidal behavior. Participants (N=545; 70.1% male (n=382); 86.4% Caucasian (n=469), Mean Age=49.86, SD=16.78) were community-dwelling veterans who self-identified as having experienced a trauma, and completed the PTG Inventory, the forgiveness subscale from the Fetzer Multidimensional Measure of Religiousness and Spirituality, and Suicide Behaviors Questionnaire-Revised. Bivariate correlations and simple mediation analyses were conducted covarying age, sex, and ethnicity. Supporting bivariate hypotheses (p-values


Johnson City, TN

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