Moral Injury and Suicide Ideation Among Combat Veterans: The Role of Trauma-Related Shame and Collective Hatred

Gal Schwartz*, Eran Halperin, Yossi Levi-Belz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Exposure to potentially morally injurious events (PMIEs) among combat veterans has been acknowledged as a significant stressful combat event that may lead to mental health problems, including suicide ideation (SI). Several studies have examined the risk and protective factors that can explain the conditions in which PMIEs may contribute to the development and maintenance of SI. However, the contribution of social-emotional factors has yet to be examined. In the current study, we examined the association between PMIE-Self and SI among combat veterans and explored the mediating role of trauma-related shame and the moderation role of collective hatred in this association. A volunteer sample of 336 Israeli combat veterans was recruited, completing self-report questionnaires in a cross-sectional study. Results indicated that PMIE-Self was positively associated with SI, and trauma-related shame mediated this association. Moreover, collective hatred moderated both their direct (PMIE–SI) and indirect (PMIE–Shame–SI) association. Notably, collective hatred had an inverse role for each of the associations. Thus, collective hatred was found to comprise both a risk and a protective factor for SI following PMIE-Self. The current findings highlight the crucial contribution of trauma-related shame and collective hatred to the association between moral injury and suicidality. Moreover, the findings demonstrate that even years after their military service release, combat veterans exposed to PMIEs may still feel consumed by painful memories and maintain premonitions of a foreshortened future. Furthermore, the findings help to better understand the dynamics of collective hatred and the challenge of modifying it.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)NP13952-NP13977
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Volume37
Issue number15-16
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 SAGE Publications.

Keywords

  • collective hatred
  • combat veterans
  • moral injury
  • suicide ideation
  • trauma-related shame

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