Posttraumatic Cognitions and Suicidal Ideation among Veterans receiving PTSD Treatment

Cognit Ther Res. 2018 Oct;42(5):711-719. doi: 10.1007/s10608-018-9925-6. Epub 2018 May 24.


With approximately 20 veteran suicide deaths per day, suicidal ideation (SI) among veterans is an important concern. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with SI among veterans, yet mechanisms of this relationship remain unclear. Negative posttraumatic cognitions contribute to the development and maintenance of PTSD, yet no studies have prospectively examined the relationship between posttraumatic cognitions and SI. Veterans (N = 177; 66% Male) participating in a 3-week intensive outpatient program for PTSD completed assessments of PTSD severity, depressive symptoms, SI, and posttraumatic cognitions. Negative posttraumatic cognitions about the self significantly predicted SI at posttreatment, controlling for pretreatment levels of SI, depression, and PTSD symptom severity. Self-blame and negative posttraumatic cognitions about others/world did not predict SI prospectively. Negative posttraumatic cognitions about the self appear to be an important factor in the manifestation of SI among veterans with PTSD and should be monitored as a potential indicator of suicide risk.