Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Research Psychology (MS)




Jessica Fossum

Second Reader

Keyne C. Law


Military, Race, Suicidal Ideation, Thwarted Belongingness, Perceived Burdensomeness, Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicide (IPTS)


Suicide rates have increased over the last 20 years in all ethnic and racial groups in the US, but most prominently for veterans and non-white racial subgroups. Suicidal Ideation is a predictor for suicide but there is limited research looking at mental health differences in the at-risk military community due to race. 794 military personnel were surveyed electronically on a range of mental health measures in a southern US joint forces training center between 2014 and 2015. Guided by the Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicide, this secondary data analysis considered the moderating effect of a three-group race model on the relationship between Thwarted Belongingness and Perceived Burdensomeness on Suicidal Ideation, with exploratory analyses considering social support as an additional predictor. Results showed that race did moderate the relationship between Perceived Burdensomeness and Suicidal Ideation, with the Combined racial group being significantly different from the comparison White group. These results imply that military service may equalize risk for those in the African American group and exacerbate risk for those in the Combined group, specifically those who identify as Hispanic/Latino(a), when compared to the White group. Future research should focus on those within the Combined group, and suicide prevention interventions focused on Perceived Burdensomeness and Thwarted Belongingness should supply additional resources to military members who identify as Hispanic/Latino(a), Asian/Pacific Islander, and/or Native American for the best chance of decreasing suicide risk.

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