Posttraumatic stress disorder diagnostic criteria and suicidal ideation in a South African Police sample
Objective: Exposure to traumatic events may precipitate suicidal ideation. Once an individual is diagnosed with PTSD, a suicide risk assessment often follows. This study explores how PTSD symptom criteria correlate with suicidal ideation in a sample of police officers. While the psychometric measures of PTSD often mirror the DSM-IV-TR criteria, focusing on exposure, symptom, and duration criteria, suicidal ideation measures often focus on concepts quite different from that. In this report the focus was on investigating how PTSD symptom criteria correlate with the suicidal ideation.
Method: A group of South African police officers (N = 217) were assessed by means of the Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale and a short version of the Adult Suicide Ideation Questionnaire. Linear and hierarchical regressions were used to determine which PTSD symptom criteria best predict suicidal
Results: Hyperarousal was the primary predictor of suicidal ideation (R2 [adjusted] = 0.249). Intrusive thoughts added only marginally to the model, contributing a further 2.5% to the declared variance. The contributions of the other two symptom types were negligible.
Conclusion: In this study hyperarousal correlated significantly with suicidal ideation. It is suggested that practitioners be alert to these symptoms as possible indicators of suicidal ideation. Implications for suicide risk assessment and prevention measures are discussed.
Keywords: Stress Disorders; Post-Traumatic; Suicidal ideation; Police; South Africa