Trauma Type and Suicide Risk: Mediating Role of Mental Contamination and Stress



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Suicide is a pervasive issue among different ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, genders, sexual orientations, and ages. Trauma, mental contamination, and posttraumatic stress may provide new insights related to identifying and treating individuals at high risk of suicide. This study aimed to understand the serial indirect effect of trauma type (i.e., non-interpersonal trauma, interpersonal sexual trauma, and interpersonal physical trauma) on suicide risk as mediated by posttraumatic mental contamination (PMC), posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms, and the factors from the Interpersonal Psychological Theory of Suicide (IPTS). It was hypothesized that sexual and physical trauma would have a significant serial indirect pathway on suicide risk through the respective variables. Moreover, it was hypothesized that non-interpersonal trauma would not be significantly related to suicide risk as mediated by the above-mentioned variables. Data was gathered from a student sample at a master-level regional university. Each participant completed several self-report measures and open-ended questions via Qualtrics. Using a serial indirect effect model with a multicategorical antecedent (i.e., trauma type), several significant relative direct effect pathways were found while none of the mediation outcomes were significant. Specifically, these models suggest physical trauma, perceived burdensomeness, and pain tolerance are directly related to suicide risk. Additionally, sexual trauma was directly related to posttraumatic mental contamination. This project suggests that trauma type is an important factor to consider when conducting trauma research as sexual trauma appears to impact mental health constructs differently than physical and non-interpersonal traumas. It also suggests a novel way of researching trauma by categorizing trauma into specific groups. While no serial indirect effect was found, the direct effect findings could provide clinicians with important information to help guide treatment of trauma survivors.



Trauma, mental contamination, Interpersonal Psychological Theory of Suicide, suicide risk, posttraumatic stress.


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