HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Exploring cross-lagged associations between spiritual struggles and risk for suicidal behavior in a community sample of military veterans

Article

An article which examines the link between religious faith and/ or spirituality with the risk for suicidal behaviour.

Abstract

Abstract Background There is consensus that struggles with religious faith and/or spirituality likely contribute to risk for suicidal behavior in military populations. However, a lack of longitudinal information has limited the ability to clarify the temporal associations between these variables. Methods This study examined cross-lagged associations between key types of spiritual struggles (divine, morality, ultimate meaning, interpersonal relations, and doubting) and indices of risk for suicidal behavior (suicidal ideation and probability of future attempt) in a community sample of veterans who completed assessments spaced apart by six months. Results Greater severity of all forms of spiritual struggles was generally concurrently associated with indices of suicidal behavior at both time points. Of the possible models for predicting suicide risk, structural equation modeling analyses revealed that a cross-lagged option with spiritual struggles predicting risk provided the best-fitting solution for veterans’ responses on study measures. In addition to PTSD and MDD symptomatology, issues with ultimate meaning at Time 1 were uniquely predictive of veterans’ perceived likelihood of making a suicide attempt beyond the second assessment, after accounting for autoregressive effects and other variables in this model. Limitations This sample was recruited from a single geographic region with disproportionate ties to Christian religious traditions. In addition, reliance on self-report instrumentation potentially limited the accuracy of gauging suicide risk in some cases. Conclusions Findings highlight the prognostic value of spiritually integrated models for assessing suicide risk in military veterans that account for mental health conditions along with possible expressions of suffering in the spiritual domain.

Full Reference

Currier, Joseph M. ; McDermott, Ryon C. ; McCormick, Wesley H. ; Churchwell, Marc C. ; Milkeris, Lori. (2018). Exploring cross-lagged associations between spiritual struggles and risk for suicidal behavior in a community sample of military veterans. Journal of affective disorders. Vol: 230, p.93-100.