Anxiety sensitivity and suicide risk among firefighters: A test of the depression-distress amplification model. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Firefighters represent an occupational group at increased suicide risk. How suicidality develops among firefighters is poorly understood. The depression-distress amplification model posits that the effects of depression symptoms on suicide risk will be intensified in the context of anxiety sensitivity (AS) cognitive concerns. The current study tested this model among firefighters. METHODS: Overall, 831 firefighters participated (mean [SD] age=38.37y [8.53y]; 94.5% male; 75.2% White). The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), Anxiety Sensitivity Index-3 (ASI-3), and Suicidal Behaviors Questionnaire-Revised (SBQ-R) were utilized to assess for depression symptoms, AS concerns (cognitive, physical, social), and suicide risk, respectively. Linear regression interaction models were tested. RESULTS: The effects of elevated depression symptoms on increased suicide risk were augmented when AS cognitive concerns were also elevated. Unexpectedly, depression symptoms also interacted with AS social concerns; however, consistent with expectations, depression symptoms did not interact with AS physical concerns in the prediction of suicide risk. CONCLUSIONS: In the context of elevated depression symptoms, suicide risk is potentiated among firefighters reporting elevated AS cognitive and AS social concerns. Findings support and extend the depression-distress amplification model of suicide risk within a sample of firefighters. Interventions that successfully impact AS concerns may, in turn, mitigate suicide risk among this at-risk population.

published proceedings

  • Compr Psychiatry

altmetric score

  • 4.55

author list (cited authors)

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

citation count

  • 13

complete list of authors

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

publication date

  • July 2018