Spiritual Well-Being and Depressive Symptoms in Female African American Suicide Attempters: Mediating Effects of Optimism and Pessimism

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Spiritual well-being is a well-established predictor of mental health, yet the potential mechanisms of this association are relatively unexplored. We examined the influence of spirituality, including religious and existential well-being, on depressive symptoms, and the potential mediating effect of optimism and pessimism, in a sample of 66 African American female suicide attempters. Participants were recruited from a large, urban hospital and completed the Spiritual Well-Being Scale, Life Orientation Test-Revised, and the Beck Depression Inventory-II. The association between spiritual well-being and depressive symptoms was mediated indirectly through both optimism and pessimism; greater religious and existential well-being was related to more optimism, and less pessimism and, in turn, to fewer depressive symptoms. Historically, spiritual well-being has been important to the African American community, and its beneficial effects on mental health might be explained, in part, by their effect on cognitive-emotional functioning.