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Associations Between Reasons for Living and Diminished Suicide Intent Among African-American Female Suicide Attempters

Flowers, Kelci C. MS*; Walker, Rheeda L. PhD; Thompson, Martie P. PhD; Kaslow, Nadine J. PhD, ABPP§

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: August 2014 - Volume 202 - Issue 8 - p 569–575
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000170
Original Articles

African-American women are at high risk for suicide ideation and suicide attempts and use emergency psychiatric services at disproportionately high rates relative to men and other ethnic groups. However, suicide death rates are low for this population. Cultural variables in the African-American community may promote resilience and prevent fatal suicidal behavior among African-American women. The present study evaluated self-reported reasons for living as a protective factor against suicidal intent and suicide attempt lethality in a sample of African-American female suicide attempters (n = 150). Regression analyses revealed that reasons for living were negatively associated with suicidal intent, even after controlling for spiritual well-being and symptoms of depression. These results indicate that the ability to generate and contemplate reasons for valuing life may serve as a protective characteristic against life-threatening suicidal behavior among African-American women. Implications for research and clinical practice are further discussed.

*Department of Psychology, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA; †Department of Psychology, The University of Houston, Houston, TX; ‡Department of Public Health Sciences, Clemson University, Clemson, SC; and §Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University, Atlanta, GA.

Send reprint requests to Rheeda L. Walker, PhD, The University of Houston, 126 Heyne Building, Houston, TX 77204-5502. E-mail:

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins