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Experiential Avoidance, Pain, and Suicide Risk in a National Sample of Gulf War Veterans.

Grove JL, Young JR, Chen Z, Blakey SM, Beckham JC, Calhoun PS, Dedert EA, Goldston DB, Pugh MJ, Kimbrel NA. Experiential Avoidance, Pain, and Suicide Risk in a National Sample of Gulf War Veterans. Archives of suicide research : official journal of the International Academy for Suicide Research. 2022 Dec 26; 1-15.

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Pain confers risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Experiential avoidance (EA), which is relevant to both pain and suicide risk, has not been studied as a potential mechanism for this relationship. The present study tested the hypothesis that pain indirectly impacts suicide risk through EA in a national sample of Gulf War veterans. Participants included a stratified random sample of United States veterans (? = 1,012, 78% male) who had served in the Gulf War region between August 1990 and July 1991. Validated scales were used to quantify levels of pain, EA, and suicide risk. Regression analyses indicated independent associations between pain, EA, and suicide risk; moreover, the association between pain and suicide risk was no longer significant once EA was included in model. Bootstrapping analyses confirmed that EA partially accounted for the cross-sectional association between pain and suicide risk, independent of common co-occurring problems, such as depression, PTSD, and alcohol use disorder symptoms. EA could be a key modifiable risk factor to target in people experiencing pain.

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