Perceived family functioning and suicidal ideation : Hopelessness as mediator or moderator

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)422-429
Journal / PublicationNursing Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


Background: Suicidal ideation has been identified increasingly as a problem among university students in Hong Kong. Understanding the relationships among hopelessness, perceived family functioning, and suicidal ideation is essential to designing effective interventions. Objectives: The aims of this study are to explore the relationships among hopelessness, perceived family functioning, and suicidal ideation and to examine the moderating and mediating roles played by hopelessness on suicidal ideation. Methods: A cross-sectional survey using convenience sampling was conducted. A questionnaire was administered to 350 university students with ages 18 to 25 years. The questions measured levels of suicidal ideation, perceived family functioning, and hopelessness of the students. Data analyses, including correlation and multiple hierarchical regression analyses, were conducted to examine the mediating and moderating roles of hopelessness on suicidal ideation. Results: Perceived family functioning (B = -.10, p <.05) and hopelessness (B = .56, p <.001) were shown to be significant predictors of suicidal ideation. Hopelessness was found to mediate only partially but moderate the impact of perceived family functioning on suicidal ideation (B = -.88, p <.05), hence expanding Beck's cognitive theory of suicide. Conclusion: Perceived family functioning and hopelessness are significant predictors, whereas hopelessness is a partial mediator and a significant moderator of suicidal ideation. Therefore, interventions that enhance family functioning and lower the sense of hopelessness may be effective in decreasing suicidal ideation among university students. Copyright © 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Research Area(s)

  • family functioning, hopelessness, suicidal ideation