Anger mediates the relationship between posttraumatic stress disorder and suicidal ideation in veterans.
BACKGROUND: Theoretical models and cross-sectional empirical studies of suicide indicate that anger is a factor that may help explain the association between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide, but to date no longitudinal studies have examined this relationship. The current study used longitudinal data to examine whether changes in anger mediated the association between changes in PTSD symptomatology and suicidal ideation (SI). METHODS: Post 9/11-era veterans (N = 298) were assessed at baseline, 6-months, and 12-month time points on PTSD symptoms, anger, and SI. Analyses covaried for age, sex, and depressive symptoms. Multilevel structural equation modeling was used to examine the three waves of data. RESULTS: The effect of change in PTSD symptoms on SI was reduced from B = 0.02 (p = .008) to B = -0.01 (p = .67) when change in anger was added to the model. Moreover, the indirect effect of changes in PTSD symptoms on suicidal ideation via changes in anger was significant, B = 0.02, p = .034. The model explained 31.1% of the within-person variance in SI. LIMITATIONS: Focus on predicting SI rather than suicidal behavior. Sample was primarily male. CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that the association between PTSD and SI is accounted for, in part, by anger. This study further highlights the importance of anger as a risk factor for veteran suicide. Additional research on clinical interventions to reduce anger among veterans with PTSD may be useful in reducing suicide risk.
Dillon, KH; Van Voorhees, EE; Dennis, PA; Glenn, JJ; Wilks, CR; Morland, LA; Beckham, JC; Elbogen, EB
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