Emotional Intelligence is a Protective Factor for Suicidal Behavior

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Emotional Intelligence is a Protective Factor for Suicidal Behavior

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Title: Emotional Intelligence is a Protective Factor for Suicidal Behavior
Author: Cha, Christine Boram; Nock, Matthew K.

Note: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.

Citation: Cha, Christine B. and Marin K. Nowak. 2009. Emotional intelligence is a protective factor for suicidal behavior. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 48: 422-430.
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Abstract: Objective: Little is known about what factors protect against the occurrence of suicide ideation and attempts. We tested whether emotional intelligence (EI)—the ability to perceive, integrate, understand, and manage one’s emotions—decreases the likelihood of suicide ideation and attempts among those at risk. Method: Adolescents (N=54) aged 12-19 were recruited from local psychiatric clinics and the community to participate in this cross-sectional laboratory-based study. Analyses examined whether the relations between childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and suicide ideation and attempts were moderated by adolescents’ EI. These constructs were assessed using self-report, structured interviews, and performance-based tests, respectively. Results: Analyses revealed that EI is a protective factor for both suicide ideation and attempts. Specifically, CSA was strongly predictive of these outcomes among those with low EI, weakly predictive among those with medium EI, and completely unrelated among those with high EI. Follow-up analyses revealed that the protective effect of EI was driven primarily by differences in Strategic EI (i.e., ability to understand and manage emotions) but not Experiential EI (i.e., ability to perceive emotions and integrate emotions into thoughts). Conclusions: This study provides preliminary evidence that EI is a protective factor for suicide ideation and attempts. Important next steps include testing the moderating influence of EI on a wider range of stressful life events and self-injurious behaviors, as well as conducting experimental studies to determine whether enhancing EI decreases the subsequent occurrence of these behavior problems.
Published Version: doi:10.1097/CHI.0b013e3181984f44
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Open Access Policy Articles, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#OAP
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:4133810
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