Year: 2017 Source: Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. (2017). 47(5): 538-550. DOI: 10.1111/sltb.12317 SIEC No: 20170580

Prior studies examining posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom clusters and the components of the interpersonal theory of suicide (ITS) have yielded mixed results, likely stemming in part from the use of divergent samples and measurement techniques. This study aimed to expand on these findings by utilizing a large military sample, gold standard ITS measures, and multiple PTSD factor structures. Utilizing a sample of 935 military personnel, hierarchical multiple regression analyses were used to test the association between PTSD symptom clusters and the ITS variables. Additionally, we tested for indirect effects of PTSD symptom clusters on suicidal ideation through thwarted belongingness, conditional on levels of perceived burdensomeness. Results indicated that numbing symptoms are positively associated with both perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness and hyperarousal symptoms (dysphoric arousal in the 5-factor model) are positively associated with thwarted belongingness. Results also indicated that hyperarousal symptoms (anxious arousal in the 5-factor model) were positively associated with fearlessness about death. The positive association between PTSD symptom clusters and suicidal ideation was inconsistent and modest, with mixed support for the ITS model. Overall, these results provide further clarity regarding the association between specific PTSD symptom clusters and suicide risk factors.