Year: 2023 Source: Crisis. (2023). 44(1), 14–20. SIEC No: 20230895
Background: Pet ownership is often assumed to have mental health benefits, but the effect of pets on suicide risk has a scant literature. Aims: Using the interpersonal theory of suicide, we examined the relationships between perceived  burdensomeness (PB), thwarted belongingness (TB), overall attachment to one’s pet, pet attachment avoidance or anxiety, and suicide risk. The following three hypotheses were investigated: (1) Higher attachment would be indirectly  associated with lower suicide risk via lower TB and lower PB; (2) attachment would be associated with higher suicide risk, as conditioned on attachment avoidance/anxiety; and (3) attachment avoidance/anxiety would be associated with higher suicide risk via higher TB/PB. Method: Undergraduates (N = 187) completed surveys, and indirect effect and conditional effect analyses were utilized. Results: Overall attachment was associated with lower PB, which was  associated with lower suicide risk. The relationship between overall attachment and suicide risk was not conditional upon attachment anxiety/avoidance. Attachment avoidance was associated with increased levels of TB, which was  associated with increased suicide risk. Attachment anxiety was associated with increased suicide risk via TB and PB. Limitations: We used a university sample that had limited access to pets. Conclusions: Findings suggest that pet ownership may provide mixed associations with suicide risk.