Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name





Psychology, Childhood maltreatment, Hope, Suicide


Jim Porter




This study was designed to increase our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the link between childhood maltreatment and suicidality in adulthood using the theoretical framework of Hope Theory (Snyder, 1991). Two hundred university students between the ages of 18 and 60 took part in the study. One hundred participants were pre-selected for having suicidal behaviour histories and 100 participants were pre-selected for having no previous suicidal behaviours. In total, 34 males and 166 females participated in groups of five to ten. The following measures were administered to all participants in the same order: Hope Scale (HS; Snyder et al.,1991); Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS; Beck & Steer, 1988), Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ: Bernstein & Fink, 1998); Suicide Behaviours Questionnaire (SBQ-14; Linehan, 1996); and the Linehan Reasons for Living Inventory (LRFL; Linehan, Goodstein, Neilsen, & Chiles, 1983). The results revealed strong correlations between hope, suicidal behaviours, child maltreatment, reasons for living, and hopelessness. Participants with either a history of childhood maltreatment or a history of suicidal behaviours had lower hope, lower pathways thinking and lower agency than did participants without histories of either childhood maltreatment or suicidality. Although the interaction between hope and overall child maltreatment did not explain suicidal behaviours, suicidal behaviour was significantly affected by the interaction between emotional abuse and hope. Furthermore, hope partially mediated the relationship between childhood maltreatment and adult suicidal behaviours. In conclusion, this study shows that hope plays an important role in the relation between childhood maltreatment and suicidal action. The findings support the notion that the development of hope can serve as a protective factor against suicidal behaviour in early adulthood.