This study examines self-criticism as a mechanism through which compassion meditation reduces depressive symptoms in low-income African American men and women (N = 59) who had recently attempted suicide. After completing several measures, including the Levels of Self-Criticism Scale and Beck Depression Inventory-II, participants were randomly assigned to receive either a six-session compassion meditation (CM) group (Grady Compassion and Meditation Program) or a six-session support group. As predicted, path analysis results showed that treatment condition led to changes in self-criticism from pre- to posttreatment, with those receiving CM showing greater reductions in levels of self-criticism than those randomized to the support group. Path analyses also revealed that changes in self-criticism fully mediated the link between condition and changes in depressive symptoms. These findings highlight the importance and value of targeting levels of self-criticism in compassion-based interventions to reduce the depressive symptoms of suicidal African Americans.
© 2017 The American Association of Suicidology.