The Roles of Emotion Regulation Self-Efficacy and Emotional Avoidance in Self-Injurious Thoughts and Behaviors

Arch Suicide Res. 2020 Sep 22;1-19. doi: 10.1080/13811118.2020.1818654. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Little research has examined the role of emotion regulation self-efficacy (ERSE; i.e., beliefs in one's own ability to regulate emotions) in self-injurious thoughts and behaviors (SITBs) or the factors that may underlie this relation. This study investigated whether low ERSE relates to SITBs both directly and indirectly through avoidance of negative emotions. Participants (N = 364) completed measures of ERSE, emotional avoidance, suicide attempt history, nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI), and current severity of suicidal ideation through Amazon's Mechanical Turk. Low ERSE was significantly associated with history of suicide attempts, recent NSSI, and current severity of suicidal ideation both directly and indirectly through avoidance of negative emotions. Furthermore, low ERSE was significantly associated with a greater number of SITB types both directly and indirectly through emotional avoidance.

Keywords: Emotional avoidance; emotion regulation; nonsuicidal self-injury; suicide attempts.