Depressive symptoms and interpersonal needs as mediators of forgiveness and suicidal behavior among rural primary care patients

Sheri A. Nsamenang, Jon R. Webb, Kelly C. Cukrowicz, Jameson K. Hirsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Background: Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US, and rates of suicide are higher in rural than urban areas. As proposed by the Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicide, thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness are risk factors for suicidal behavior, although protective individual-level characteristics such as forgiveness, may indirectly affect suicidal behavior by decreasing the deleterious effect of thwarted interpersonal needs. Method: A sample of uninsured adults recruited from a rural primary clinic (N=101) completed the Brief Multidimensional Measure of Religiousness and Spirituality; Suicidal Behaviors Questionnaire-Revised; Interpersonal Needs Questionnaire; and Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Parallel and serial multivariable mediation analyses were conducted to test for direct and indirect effects of forgiveness on suicidal behavior. Results: In parallel mediation, covarying depressive symptoms, forgiveness of self had an indirect effect on suicidal behavior, through perceived burdensomeness. Inclusion of depressive symptoms as a mediator revealed an indirect effect of forgiveness of self and others on suicidal behavior via depression, thwarted belongingness, and perceived burdensomeness in a serial mediation model. Limitation: A longitudinal study, with an equal representation of males and diverse populations is needed to replicate our findings. Discussion: Our findings have implications for the role health providers can play in addressing suicide with rural patients. Promoting forgiveness, may, in turn affect interpersonal functioning and decrease risk for suicidal behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-290
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Forgiveness
  • Perceived burdensomeness
  • Primary care
  • Rural
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Thwarted belongingness


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