Mediating role of childhood abuse and emotion regulation between parental bonding and suicidal behaviour
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Introduction: Experiences of negative parenting and childhood abuse can have adverse consequences for the child‟s development particularly in relation to the ability to regulate emotions effectively. There has been extensive research in this area and attachment theory is pivotal. Problems in regulating emotions can involve not being able to recognise, label or manage internal and external states of mind and behaviour. Therefore research has shown that problems in emotion regulation skills due to negative parental and/or abusive experiences can result in long-term psychosocial problems such as depression. Research has suggested that adults with adverse childhood experiences exhibit risky behaviours as a means of managing their emotions such as self-harming, dangerous sexual encounters and substance misuse. Although research has shown that there is an association between these factors no real understanding of the pathways and the potential mediating roles these factors play has been investigated with people presenting with suicidal behaviour, which could be argued as the ultimate form of managing emotions and therefore the internal and external self. Therefore this study aims to answer the following question: Does childhood abuse and dysfunctional emotion regulation mediate the relationship between parental bonding and suicidal behaviour. Method: This study involved sixty participants from a suicidal behaviour sample presenting at an Accident and Emergency department aged between 18 - 65. Measures assessing childhood abuse, emotion regulation, parental bonding, suicidal intent, risk of repeating suicidal behaviour, depression and anxiety were completed. Results: Childhood emotional abuse was found to significantly mediate the relationship between low parental care and risk of repeating suicidal behaviour. A lack of external functional emotion regulation strategies was also found to mediate the relationship between parental care and risk of repeating suicidal behaviour. Finally, a lack of internal functional emotion regulation strategies was found to mediate the relationship between childhood physical abuse and risk of repeating suicidal behaviour. Conclusion: Preliminary findings of this study suggest that childhood emotional abuse and dysfunctional emotion regulation play a crucial role in further understanding those who engage in and are at risk of repeating suicidal behaviour. Therefore, emotions and emotion regulation within a developmental framework are important when considering long-term adult psychosocial functioning.