Suicide bereavement is associated with increased risk for severe negative mental health outcomes and suicidality. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between mental health symptoms and suicidal ideation among suicide bereaved while taking multiple factors into account.
The sample consisted of N = 157 German suicide bereaved who were interested in receiving an online intervention. The Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation (BSS) was used to distinguish between participants with and without suicidal ideation. A hierarchical regression analysis determined the effect of the most common mental health symptoms on suicidal ideation: symptoms of depression (BDI-II), prolonged grief (ICG-D), post-traumatic stress (IES-R), and hopelessness (H-RB).
No significant differences emerged for sociodemographic or loss-related characteristics between suicide bereaved individuals with and without suicidal ideation. Depressive symptom severity was associated with higher suicidal ideation. When controlling for hopelessness, the effect of depression decreased considerably, while hopelessness itself turned out to be the most important predictor variable.
Increased levels of hopelessness commonly reported by suicide bereaved may represent a stronger risk factor for suicidal ideation than mental health disorders. Screening for and targeting hopelessness appears crucial for suicide prevention in this population.