Forgiveness as a Moderator of the Association Between Anger Expression and Suicidal Behaviour

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Anger is often associated with poor physical and mental health, including suicidal behaviour. Anger expression is typically conceptualised as inward or outward-directed, with each mode of expression having potentially different aetiologies and health manifestations. Individual characteristics such as religion or spirituality may buffer against the effects of anger. One such characteristic, forgiveness, is the voluntary process of changing ones’ beliefs, behaviours, and emotions towards a transgressor from negative to positive. We examined forgiveness of self, forgiveness of others and feeling forgiven by God as moderators of the relationship between anger expression and suicidal behaviours in a sample of 372 ethnically diverse college students. In independent and full models, we found that forgiveness of self was a significant moderator of the association between inward and outward anger and suicidal behaviour. Interventions targeting anger via the promotion of forgiveness may be useful in the prevention of suicide ideation and attempts.