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Interoceptive deficits (ID) have been associated with non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and suicidal behavior in multiple studies. Many of these studies are limited in scope, and have not fully examined possible mechanisms explaining how ID affect suicidal behavior.
This study assesses how self-reported ID relate to suicide ideation and attempts in six distinct and geographically diverse samples of adults (n = 2706) and one sample of adolescents (n = 436). Participants responded to a variety of self-report questionnaires and interviews.
Contrary to our hypothesis, self-reported ID were only associated with suicidal ideation in two samples, one of which was the adolescent sample. Largely consistent with our predictions, self-reported ID exhibited an indirect effect on suicide attempts through versatility of NSSI in four of the five adult samples tested. Finally, the indirect effects of self-reported ID on suicide attempts through NSSI versatility did not act indirectly through behaviorally assessed pain tolerance.
We found that, in adults, self-reported ID are not associated with suicidal ideation, but are connected with a history of suicide attempts, through an indirect effect via NSSI. Our findings also indicate that the mechanism of action leading from self-reported ID to suicidal behavior may differ between adolescents and adults, and relate to suicidal behavior independent of pain tolerance. Clinical implications and future directions are discussed.
Research is needed to identify the factors that explain the link between prior and future suicidality. This study evaluated possible mediators of the relationship between: (1) the severity of prior suicidality and (2) suicidal ideation severity at 3-month follow-up among a sample of high-risk military personnel.
US military service members referred to or seeking care for suicide risk (N = 624) completed self-report psychiatric domain measures and a clinician interview assessing prior suicidality severity at baseline. Three months later, participants completed a self-report measure of suicidal ideation severity. Three separate percentile bootstrap mediation models were used to examine psychiatric factors (i.e. alcohol abuse, anxiety sensitivity, hopelessness, insomnia, posttraumatic stress symptoms, suicidal ideation, and thwarted belongingness) as parallel mediators of the relationship between prior suicidality severity (specifically, suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, and overall suicidality – i.e. ideation/attempt severity combined) at baseline and suicidal ideation severity at follow-up.
Hopelessness, specifically, and the total effect of all mediators, each significantly accounted for the relationship between prior suicidality severity and subsequent ideation severity across models. In the models with attempt severity and overall suicidality severity as predictors, thwarted belongingness was also a significant mediator.
Hopelessness, thwarted belongingness, and overall severity of psychiatric indices may explain the relationship between prior suicidality severity and future suicidal ideation severity among service members at elevated suicide risk. Research is needed to replicate these findings and examine other possible mediators.