Social Problem Solving and Suicidal Behavior: Ethnic Differences in the Moderating Effects of Loneliness and Life Stress

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The objective of this study was to examine the combined moderating effects of life stress and loneliness on the association between social problem solving ability (SPS) and suicidal behaviors. We assessed SPS, suicidal behavior, loneliness, and stressful life events in a sample of 385 ethnically diverse college students. Overall, only loneliness moderated the association between SPS and suicidal behaviors. Across ethnic groups, loneliness moderated the association between SPS and suicidal behavior for Blacks, Whites, and Asians; life stress was a moderator for Hispanics. For most individuals, loneliness increases the strength of the association between poor problem-solving and suicidal behaviors. For Hispanics, life stress exacerbates this relationship. Ethnically-specific prevention strategies targeting loneliness and life stress may promote effective problem-solving, reducing suicide risk.