Introduction: Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most common non-cutaneous cancer in men and is usually identified at a stage at which prolonged survival is expected. Therefore, strategies to address survivorship and promote well-being are crucial. This study’s aim was to better understand suicidal behavior in PCa patients by examining psychosocial mediators (i.e., depression, psychache, perceived burdensomeness [PB], thwarted belongingness [TB]) in the relationship between quality of life (PCa-QoL) and suicide risk.
Methods: Four hundred and six men with PCa (Median age 69.35 years, standard deviation 7.79) completed an online survey on various psychosocial variables associated with suicide risk. A combined serial/parallel mediation model tested whether depression, in serial with both psychache and PB/TB, mediated the relationship between PCa-QoL and suicide risk.
Results: Over 14% of participants’ self-reports indicated clinically significant suicide risk. Poorer PCa-QoL was related to greater depression, which was related to both greater psychache and PB/TB, which was associated with greater suicide risk. The serial mediation effect of depression and psychache was significantly stronger than that of depression and PB/TB. PCa-QoL did not predict suicide risk through depression alone, showing that depressive symptoms affect suicide risk through psychache and PB/TB.
Conclusions: Given the alarming estimate of individuals at-risk for suicide in this study, clinicians should consider patients with poorer PCa-QoL and elevated depression for psychosocial referral or management. Psychache (i.e., psychological pain) and PB/TB (i.e., poor social fit) may be important targets for reducing suicide risk intervention beyond the impact of depression alone.