What bridges the gap between self-harm and suicidality: the role of forgiveness, resilience and attachment

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Self-harm is the most robust risk for completed suicide. There is a lack of understanding of why some people who self-harm escalate to suicidal behaviour when others do not. Psychological factors such as attachment, self-forgiveness
and self-appraisal may be important.
To determine whether factors from the Interpersonal Theory and Schematic Appraisals models are useful to identify suicidal behaviour in populations that self-harm. Specifically we investigate whether resilience factors of secure attachment, self-forgiveness and positive self-appraisals significantly influence suicidality in people who self-harm.
A cross-sectional online study of 323 participants recruited from self-harm support forum. Validated self-report measures were used to assess appraisals, relationships, self-forgiveness, attachment style, suicidality and self-harm.
Emotion coping and support seeking self-appraisals and self-forgiveness were negatively associated with suicidality in participants with a history of self-harm. Dismissing attachment was positively associated with suicidality.
The perceived ability to cope with emotions, the perceived ability to gain support and self-forgive forgiveness may protect against suicide in people who self-harm. Conversely the presence of dismissing attachment may increase the risk
of suicidality. Findings provide therapeutic targets to reduce risk of suicidality in this high risk group.


Original languageEnglish
Article number10.1016/j.psychres.2016.04.103
JournalPsychiatry Research
Early online date30 Apr 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Apr 2016


  • Psychological factors, self-harm, suicide, self injury