Race and Ethnic Differences in Hope and Hopelessness as Moderators of the Association Between Depressive Symptoms and Suicidal Behavior

Document Type


Publication Date



Objective: The authors examined trait hope and hopelessness as potential moderators of the association between depressive symptoms and suicidal behavior. Participants: A diverse sample of 372 college students. Methods: Depressive symptoms, hopelessness (Beck Hopelessness Scale), trait hope (Trait Hope Scale), and suicidal behaviors were assessed. Trait hope is defined as confidence in the ability to identify and attain goals, whereas hopelessness encompasses future attitudes and motivation loss. Results: In independent models, low hopelessness buffered the association between depressive symptoms and suicidal behavior for our whole sample, blacks, and whites, whereas trait hope buffered for Hispanics and whites. Examined simultaneously, hope remained a significant moderator only in whites and hopelessness only in blacks. These findings suggest that etiological and outcome correlates of hope and hopelessness may differ by ethnicity. Conclusions: These findings may have implications for development of culturally targeted interventions for college students that strive to simultaneously reduce hopelessness and bolster hopefulness.