The multivariate relationship between suicidality and three potential etiologic variables (depression, posttraumatic stress, and reactive avoidance) was examined in a stratified sample of 679 individuals from the general population. Lifetime exposure to a trauma or another very upsetting event was prevalent among those reporting suicidal behavior in the previous 6 months (58%) and those reporting recent suicidal ideation alone (40%), relative to those with no recent suicidal thoughts or behaviors (26%). Canonical correlation analysis indicated two independent sources of variance: the first loading on both suicidal ideation and behavior, predicted by depression, posttraumatic stress, and reactive avoidance, and the second indicating a unique relationship between suicidal behavior and reactive avoidance alone. Results indicate that the etiology of suicidality is likely multidimensional, and point to a significant variant of suicidal behavior that is unrelated to depression or posttraumatic stress, but may reflect emotional dysregulation and subsequent distress reduction behaviors.
*Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California,
†Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California; and
‡Département de Sexologie, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada.
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