Loneliness Under Assault: Understanding the Impact of Sexual Assault on the Relation Between Loneliness and Suicidal Risk in College Students

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The present study sought to examine for how loneliness and sexual assault are involved in predicting suicidal risk (viz., hopelessness & suicide probability) in a sample of 334 college students. Specifically, we were interested in examining whether sexual assault may play an additive as well as interactive role in the prediction of suicidal risk above and beyond loneliness. Results from regression analyses indicated that both loneliness and sexual assault were important and unique predictors of suicidal risk in students. Moreover, consistent with expectations, we found support for a Loneliness × Sexual Assault interaction in predicting both hopelessness and suicide probability. Inspection of the interactions indicated that the highest levels of suicidal risk were present for lonely students who had experienced some form of sexual assault. Some important implications of the present findings are discussed.