Purpose Suicide is well known to be a leading cause of death among American youth, and interventions aimed at the reduction of such have been extensively researched. Less investigated, has been the potential protective nature of mindfulness and mindful behaviours such as observing, describing, awareness of inner experience, nonjudgment, and nonreactivity, against suicidal ideation.
Methods Emerging adults (EAs; 18–25 years old) recruited from an urban emergency department (ED) completed a self-administered computer survey asking about depressive symptoms, trait mindfulness, and demographics. Logistic regressions were conducted in order to examine the relationships between suicidal ideation and mindfulness, depression, and demographic characteristics.
Results The final sample, including 776 EAs, identified as 63% Male, 58% African American, and an average age of 21.5. Those with higher levels of overall mindfulness were less likely to have suicidal ideation (OR 0.96, 95% CI 0.93–0.99). In addition, those with a college education were less likely (OR 0.40, 95% CI 0.16–0.94), and those identified as African American (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.0–4.9) and with depression (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.5–2.7) more likely to contemplate suicide. When facets of mindfulness were examined, only nonjudgment was found to be related to a reduction in suicidal ideation (OR 0.90, 95% CI 0.82–0.98). Again, college was related to reduced risk (OR 0.40, 95% CI 0.14–0.89), and depression increased (OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.7–2.4) risk of suicidal ideation.
Conclusions Findings indicate that overall mindfulness, and specifically the mindful behaviour of nonjudgment, led to a reduction in suicidal ideation. Having a college education also reduced suicidal ideation.
Contributions Future interventions aimed at the reduction of suicidal ideation should consider including mindfulness, particularly in EAs, for whom the development of mindfulness could be particularly helpful in their ongoing brain development.
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