A longitudinal study on the relationship among childhood emotional abuse, gratitude, and suicidal ideation of Chinese adolescents

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Original languageEnglish
Article number104031
Journal / PublicationChild Abuse and Neglect
Online published8 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019



Background and objective: Suicidal ideation is a significant predictor of suicidal attempt. Based on the developmental psychopathology perspective and the resilience theory, this study examines whether trait gratitude mediates the relationship between childhood emotional abuse and adolescent suicidal ideation. Participants and setting: A sample of 909 Grade 8 to Grade 9 adolescents aged 12–18 years in Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region in China, was recruited from six secondary schools. Method: A two-wave longitudinal study was conducted. Participants completed the same measures on Gratitude Quesitonnaire-6, Suicidal Ideation Scale, emotional subscale of Child Abuse and Trauma Scale at two time points 12 months apart. Results: Results of cross-lagged analyses showed that adolescents’ suicidal ideation was positively associated with childhood emotional abuse and negatively associated with gratitude; further, the association between childhood emotional abuse and suicidal ideation was mediated by gratitude. Conclusions: Findings of this study implied that while exposure to parental emotional abuse might have an adverse impact on the development of gratitude, adolescents’ current level of gratitude still exerts its protective effect by directly reducing their suicidal ideation. Gratitude or other resilience factors that might comprise additional mediating mechanisms from childhood emotional abuse to mental health problems in later life is worthy of further investigation.

Research Area(s)

  • Adolescents, Childhood emotional abuse, Gratitude, Suicidal ideation

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