Psychological Science Faculty Publications and Presentations

Coping competence and hopelessness moderate the influence of perceived burdensomeness on suicidal ideation in undergraduate college students

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According to the interpersonal theory of suicide, the perception of imposing a burden on loved ones increases the risk for suicidal ideation. Little research, however, has examined the interaction of burdensomeness with cognitive variables in predicting suicidal ideation in college students even though the relationship between burdensomeness and ideation may be contingent on levels of cognitive risk factors. The present study thus examined the relationships between burdensomeness, hopelessness, coping competence, and suicidal ideation. Questionnaires were administered to 279 undergraduate students from a university in the Midwest United States. After controlling for depression, hopelessness, and coping competence, burdensomeness significantly predicted ideation and accounted for variance above and beyond the control variables. Moreover, the relationship between burdensomeness and suicidal ideation was significantly moderated by coping competence and hopelessness. The findings suggest that perceived burdensomeness plays a critical role in the risk for suicide in college students. More specifically, the findings suggest that coping competence and hopelessness can be ideal targets for interventions as changes in these variables may attenuate the association between perceived burdensomeness and suicidal ideation.


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Current Psychology