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In the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as well as in most armies throughout the world, the leading cause of death during peace-time is suicide. This study examines emotional regulation of mental pain as a contributor to suicidal ideation in soldiers.
One hundred sixty-eight IDF soldiers (aged 18–21 years, 59% males) completed the following self-report questionnaires: Scale for Suicide Ideation (SSI); Orbach & Mikulincer Mental Pain Scale (OMMP); and Emotional Regulation of Mental Pain questionnaire. Participants were divided into 3 groups: soldiers who attempted suicide (AS group, n = 58), soldiers under treatment by a mental health professional and reporting no suicidal behavior (PT group, n = 58), and controls (C group, n = 50).
Suicide ideation, mental pain, and low emotional regulation were significantly higher in the suicidal group as compared to the two other groups (P < 0.001). Mental pain was significantly related to more suicide ideation in soldiers with low ability to regulate mental pain (P < .001 for the interaction).
Emotional regulation of mental pain moderates the link between mental pain and suicide ideation. Soldiers with high mental pain and low regulation of mental pain exhibited higher suicidal ideation. These findings may assist in planning prevention programs in the army and similar settings.
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