Author ORCID Identifier

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Raluca M Simons


Suicide is a significant cause of preventable death, especially among young adults. Survivors of childhood maltreatment are at heightened risk of experiencing suicidal ideation and following through on suicide-related thoughts. Insecure attachment, alexithymia, and impulsivity (negative urgency) are known risk factors for suicidal ideation. However, the combined role of these variables in association with suicidal ideation is not fully understood. The current study tested the role of insecure attachment, alexithymia, and negative urgency in the relationship between child maltreatment and ideation via a path model in young adults between 18 and 29 (N = 441). We hypothesized that maltreatment would be directly associated with ideation and indirectly via three paths: one sequentially via anxious attachment and impulsivity; second via avoidant attachment and alexithymia; and through avoidant attachment, alexithymia, and impulsivity. We also predicted that negative urgency would mediate the link between alexithymia and ideation. Results indicate that child maltreatment was associated with suicidal ideation directly and indirectly via 1) alexithymia and negative urgency and 2) anxious attachment, alexithymia, and negative urgency. The effect of maltreatment on alexithymia was mediated by both anxious and avoidant attachment, and multiple paths mediated the maltreatment-urgency link. The effect of alexithymia on ideation was, indeed, indirect via negative urgency. These findings highlight the importance of maltreatment, attachment, and particularly negative urgency to prevent suicidal ideation. The results also reveal the need for interventions that target emotion regulation and impulse control deficits.

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology


alexithymia, Childhood Maltreatment, impulsivity, insecure attachment styles, suicidal ideation

Number of Pages



University of South Dakota



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