Mother–Daughter Interpersonal Processes Underlying the Association Between Child Maltreatment and Adolescent Suicide Ideation

Elizabeth D. Handley, Tangeria R. Adams, Jody Todd Manly, Dante Cicchetti, Sheree L. Toth

1 Scopus citations


Objective: The aim of the present study was to investigate whether mother-daughter relationship quality and mother-daughter conflict represent mechanisms underlying the association between child maltreatment and adolescent passive or active suicide ideation. Method: The sample included 164 socioeconomically disadvantaged depressed adolescent girls and their mothers (adolescents: mean age = 14.00 years; 66.3% African-American, 21.3% white, 14.0% Latina). Structural equation modeling was used to test three simultaneous and distinct mediating pathways linking child maltreatment to adolescent suicide ideation: (1) mother-daughter relationship quality, (2) mother-daughter conflict, and 3) adolescent depressive symptoms. Results: Consistent with the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicide (Joiner, Why people die by suicide, 2005, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA), both mother-daughter relationship quality and mother-daughter conflict mediated the effect of child maltreatment on adolescent suicide ideation, over and above the significant depressive symptoms mediational pathway. Conclusions: These findings advance our understanding of why individuals who experienced child maltreatment are at risk for suicide ideation and highlight the importance of relationship-based interventions for these vulnerable youths.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1232-1240
Number of pages9
JournalSuicide and Life-Threatening Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

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