Negative Life Events and Suicide Risk in College Students: Conditional Indirect Effects of Hopelessness and Self-Compassion

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Objective: Suicide risk is a significant public health concern for college students and may be exacerbated by hopelessness resulting from negative life events (NLE), yet may be ameliorated by self-compassion. We examined the mediating role of hopelessness in the relation between NLE and suicidal behavior, and the moderating influence of self-compassion on all model paths. Participants: Participants were 338 undergraduates (89% white; 67% female). Data were collected from December 2014 to December 2015. Methods: Participants completed the Life Events Checklist for College Students, Beck Hopelessness Inventory, Self-Compassion Scale, and Suicidal Behaviors Questionnaire–Revised. Results: Negative life events were related to greater hopelessness and, in turn, to more suicidal behavior, yet self-compassion attenuated this effect. Conclusions: Self-compassion may buffer the NLE–hopelessness linkage, thereby reducing suicide risk among college students. Therapeutic promotion of self-compassion, and reduction of hopelessness, may be important suicide prevention strategies on college campuses.