Perceived social support buffers the impact of PTSD symptoms on suicidal behavior: implications into suicide resilience research

M Panagioti, P A Gooding, P J Taylor, N Tarrier
Comprehensive Psychiatry 2014, 55 (1): 104-12

BACKGROUND: A growing body of research has highlighted the importance of identifying resilience factors against suicidal behavior. However, no previous study has investigated potential resilience factors among individuals with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The aim of this study was to examine whether perceived social support buffered the impact of PTSD symptoms on suicidal behavior.

METHODS: Fifty-six individuals who had previously been exposed to a traumatic event and reported PTSD symptoms in the past month (n = 34, 60.7% participants met the full criteria for a current PTSD diagnosis) completed a range of self-report measures assessing PTSD symptoms, perceived social support and suicidal behavior. Hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to examine whether perceived social support moderates the effects of PTSD symptoms on suicidal behavior.

RESULTS: The results showed that perceived social support moderated the impact of the number and severity of PTSD symptoms on suicidal behavior. For those who perceived themselves as having high levels of social support, an increased number and severity of PTSD symptoms were less likely to lead to suicidal behavior.

CONCLUSIONS: The current findings suggest that perceived social support might confer resilience to individuals with PTSD and counter the development of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. The milieu of social support potentially provides an area of further research and an important aspect to incorporate into clinical interventions for suicidal behavior in PTSD or trauma populations.

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