Identifying Trauma Factors That Predict Suicide Specific Helplessness in Female Veterans with Chronic PTSD Resulting from Military Sexual Trauma
RESEARCH OBJECTIVE: This study attempts to understand the contribution of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), resulting from Military Sexual Trauma (MST), and depressive symptoms to suicide specific hopelessness. It also examines specifically which of the PTSD symptom clusters is associated with this type of hopelessness along with the interaction of PTSD symptoms and suicide-specific hopelessness as it might relate to suicidal ideation. METHODS: A sample of 86 female veterans receiving mental or physical healthcare at a Southwestern Veteran Administration (VA) Healthcare System participated in the study. Participants were interviewed using the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS); were assessed for depressive symptoms with the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II) and suicide-specific hopelessness with the Suicide Cognitions Scale (SCS). RESULTS: A linear regression indicated that trauma symptoms, as measured by the CAPS, accounted for a significant percentage of the variance in suicide-specific hopelessness (R2 = 18.2, p = 0.002). Contrary to expectations, when examined independently and along with the other symptom clusters, regression analysis revealed that the avoidant symptom cluster was not significantly associated with suicide-specific hopelessness (R2 = 9.5, p = .08 and t = - .66, p = 0.51). As expected, depressive symptoms as measured by the BDI-II, accounted for a significant portion of the variance of suicide-specific hopelessness (R2 = 48.8, p < 0.001). However, trauma symptoms did not contribute more than depressive symptoms (t = 0.54, p = 0.59 and t = 6.95, p = 0.001respectively). Lastly, a significant interaction between suicide-specific hopelessness and trauma symptoms was found to be associated with a positive endorsement of suicidal ideation (t = -4.193, p = 0.001). CONCLUSION: Female veterans with chronic PTSD resulting from Military Sexual Trauma (MST) are at risk for experiencing suicidal thoughts and behaviors.