Occupational stress and suicidality among firefighters: Examining the buffering role of distress tolerance. Academic Article uri icon


  • Past research indicates that firefighters are at increased risk for suicide. Firefighter-specific occupational stress may contribute to elevated suicidality. Among a large sample of firefighters, this study examined if occupational stress is associated with multiple indicators of suicide risk, and whether distress tolerance, the perceived and/or actual ability to endure negative emotional or physical states, attenuates these associations. A total of 831 firefighters participated (mean [SD] age=38.37y[8.53y]; 94.5% male; 75.2% White). The Sources of Occupational Stress-14 (SOOS-14), Distress Tolerance Scale (DTS), and Suicidal Behaviors Questionnaire-Revised (SBQ-R) were utilized to examine firefighter-specific occupational stress, distress tolerance, and suicidality, respectively. Consistent with predictions, occupational stress interacted with distress tolerance, such that the effects of occupational stress on suicide risk, broadly, as well as lifetime suicide threats and current suicidal intent, specifically, were attenuated at high levels of distress tolerance. Distress tolerance may buffer the effects of occupational stress on suicidality among firefighters. Pending replication, findings suggest that distress tolerance may be a viable target for suicide prevention initiatives within the fire service.

published proceedings

  • Psychiatry Res

altmetric score

  • 3.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Stanley, I. H., Boffa, J. W., Smith, L. J., Tran, J. K., Schmidt, N. B., Joiner, T. E., & Vujanovic, A. A.

citation count

  • 47

complete list of authors

  • Stanley, Ian H||Boffa, Joseph W||Smith, Lia J||Tran, Jana K||Schmidt, N Brad||Joiner, Thomas E||Vujanovic, Anka A

publication date

  • August 2018