Grit and gratitude as protective factors for suicidality

Justyna Jurska, Fordham University


Background: Research shows that the strongest risk factors for suicidal ideation (SI) and suicide attempts (SA) include hopelessness, depressive symptoms, rumination, negative life events, previous SA, and non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI). Despite growing knowledge regarding variables that enhance individuals’ vulnerability to suicide, there is less research on protective factors that confer resilience and counteract the effect of such risk factors. This study examined whether grit and gratitude would moderate the relation between each suicide risk factor and current SI and number of previous SA, respectively. Method: Sixty-six adults (52% female; M = 33.66, SD = 12.77) was recruited from the New York metropolitan area. Participants completed self-report measures assessing grit, gratitude, current SI, hopelessness, rumination, and negative life events. Depressive symptoms, history of NSSI and SA were assessed via a clinical interview. Controlling for the False Discovery Rate, moderation analyses were conducted using PROCESS macro with the HC3 application to correct for heteroscedasticity of study variables. Results: Contrary to hypotheses, there were no significant interactions between grit and the six risk factors in predicting current SI. Furthermore, grit did not moderate the association between each risk factor and lifetime number of SA. However, the relationship between lifetime SA and past-year SA varied as function of grit. Among individuals with a high number of lifetime SA, those with high grit reported more SA in the past year than those with low grit. As for gratitude, significant conditional effects revealed positive associations between depressive symptoms and SI, and between negative life events and SI, among individuals with low gratitude. Gratitude was also a significant moderator in the relationship between rumination and ideation, which decreased in magnitude with higher gratitude. Finally, with past-year SA as the outcome, the interaction between lifetime SA and gratitude emerged as significant and negative. Conclusions: Consistent with previous research, the current study found that gratitude may be a protective factor against SI in at-risk individuals. Findings regarding grit were less conclusive. However, it appears that high levels of grit may facilitate suicidal behavior among individuals with previous history of attempts. Clinical implications and future research directions are discussed.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Jurska, Justyna, "Grit and gratitude as protective factors for suicidality" (2016). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10192579.