Year: 2022 Source: Archives of Suicide Research. (2022). 26(2), 886-895. SIEC No: 20220796
Objective Emotion regulation strategies and related constructs have been implicated both as risk and protective factors in a range of mental health outcomes among young adults. To expand upon this previous research, we examined comfort expressing four discrete emotions (i.e., love, happiness, sadness, and anger) as factors that protect against suicide ideation in young adults, within the context of the interpersonal theory of suicide. Method The sample consisted of 449 college students (73.1% female, 70.6% Hispanic, Mage = 20.5 years) taking part in a larger study of mood and well-being. Students were recruited from a psychology participant pool and completed self-report measures at a single time point for course credit. Comfort expressing emotions and suicide ideation were assessed using the Measure of Verbally Expressed Emotion (MoVEE) and Adult Suicidal Ideation Questionnaire (ASIQ), respectively. Perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness were assessed using the Interpersonal Needs Questionnaire (INQ). Results Preliminary analyses revealed negative associations between comfort expressing all four emotions and suicide ideation (rs = −.13 to −.26). Results from structural equation modeling supported indirect effects from comfort expressing happiness and sadness to suicide ideation, via perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness. An indirect effect was also identified from comfort expressing love to suicide ideation, via thwarted belongingness. Conclusions Results suggest that comfort expressing emotions (particularly sadness and happiness) is a protective factor against suicide ideation for young adults. These findings suggest that suicide-prevention efforts may wish to focus on increasing comfort expressing emotions to trusted support networks as potential intervention targets.