Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation

8-2018

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M.S.

Department

Criminal Justice

Degree Program

Criminal Justice, MS

Committee Chair

Swartz, Kristin

Committee Member

Higgins, George E.

Committee Member

Logan, Matthew

Author's Keywords

posttraumatic stress disorder; correctional staff; corrections; mental health; suicide; depression

Abstract

There is a large body of evidence, which suggests PTSD is strongly related to increased suicide risk, however, some studies suggest the true nature of their relationship is better explained through the development of depression due to the effects of PTSD. While a majority of the studies examining this relationship focus only on general populations, a growing body research suggests that high-risk occupations such as police, firefighters and correctional staff are developing PTSD at rates as high as 8 to 10 times that of the rate of these general samples. This study, then, aims to fill a small gap in this nascent research into PTSD and suicide among high-risk occupations. Guided by a General Strain Theory framework, this study uses structural equation modeling to examine whether depression is capable of mediating the effect PTSD has on suicide risk. The results of this study support the use of GST as a viable framework for examining these relationships within high-risk samples, revealing depression mediated a negative direct relationship exhibited by PTSD on suicidal ideation. This suggests that while PTSD may still play a role in increased suicidal behavior, the main effect PTSD displays on increased suicidal thought is instead a product of the depression developed alongside other PTSD symptoms. These findings have implications for the treatment of PTSD and the handling of workplace-related trauma for individuals in high-risk occupations, especially correctional facilities.

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