Category: PTSD

Symposium

Examining the Longitudinal Relations Between PTSD Symptoms and Risk Factors for Suicide in At-Risk Military Personnel

Saturday, November 18
10:15 AM - 11:45 AM
Location: Sapphire Ballroom I & J, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: PTSD Posttraumatic Stress Disorder | Suicide | Military
Presentation Type: Symposium

Suicide and PTSD are urgent health concerns in current and past military personnel (Berman et al., 2010; Pennings et al., 2016). PTSD onset places military personnel at risk for suicide and suicidal ideation (SI), itself a risk for suicide (Sareen et al., 2007). The interpersonal theory of suicide (IPTS; Joiner, 2005) offers a lens through which to view the relations between PTSD and SI. The IPTS posits that elevated perceived burdensomeness (PB) and thwarted belongingness (TB) lead to increased SI (Joiner, 2005). It has been posited that PTSD symptoms might be causally related to SI through PB/TB (Pennings et al., 2016). Given that no studies have examined these relations longitudinally, it is unclear whether PB/TB might also exacerbate PTSD symptoms, in turn leading to increased SI. Based on prior cross-sectional studies (e.g., Pennings et al., 2016), it was posited that numbing symptoms would predict both month 1 PB and TB and indirectly predict month 3 SI through PB/TB. No hypotheses were made regarding whether PB/TB would predict month 1 PTSD symptoms. The current study was conducted in a sample of 760 military personnel (96.4% Veterans; M age = 31.27 years, SD = 6.79; 89.3% male) presenting with SI at baseline, assessed at three times over four months. Cross-lagged SEM was used to examine the predictive relations of baseline PB, TB, and PTSD symptoms (Re-experiencing, Avoidance, Numbing, and Hyperarousal) on these same factors at month 1 as well as the indirect effects of baseline PTSD symptoms and PB/TB on SI. Baseline Re-experiencing significantly predicted month 1 PB (β = .14, p < .01). There were no direct effects of other baseline PTSD symptoms on PB/TB. Further, there were no effects of baseline PB/TB on any month 1 PTSD symptoms. Mediation analyses revealed that elevated baseline Re-experiencing significantly predicted elevated month 3 SI through month 1 PB (B = .08, 95% CI [.003, .22]). These findings indicate that PTSD symptoms result in increased PB/TB and not vice versa. The finding that Re-experiencing also predicted SI through PB suggests that targeting these symptoms might be especially important for reducing SI in individuals with PTSD.

Nicholas P. Allan

Assistant Professor
Ohio University

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