Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Jon Rottenberg, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Fallon Goodman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Marina Bornovalova, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kelsey Merlo, Ph.D.


Suicidality, Military, Recovery, Mental Health


Prior suicide attempts are known to elevate the risk for re-attempting suicide and death by suicide. However, most people who attempt suicide will neither die by suicide nor re-attempt suicide. Establishing comprehensive knowledge about the prognosis of suicide attempts would be valuable for multiple stakeholders, including suicide attempt survivors, their loved ones, and mental health professionals treating suicidal patients. Nearly all work on functioning after a non-fatal suicide attempt centers on elevated risk, and the effects of a suicide attempt on long-term psychological well-being are unknown. The present study addressed this gap in the literature by comparing psychological well-being among veterans with and without a prior suicide attempt using data from three cohorts in a nationally representative sample of US veterans. At each cohort, veteran suicide attempt survivors evidenced large deficits in psychological well-being relative to veteran non-attempters (i.e., d > 0.8). Suicide attempt survivors with more time since their last attempt had increased levels of psychological well-being as did attempt survivors with high levels of curiosity and optimism. Situated in the larger psychological well-being literature, results suggest that the aftermath of a suicide attempt may be accompanied by deficits in long-term psychological well-being that are markedly higher than other serious medical events (e.g., cancer diagnosis) and signal an urgent need to broaden the research and treatment of suicide to include a greater focus on long-term psychological well-being. Data were cross-sectional, precluding inferences of any causal effects of a suicide attempt on psychological well-being. The findings from the present study provide an empirical foundation for future research on psychological well-being in suicide attempt survivors.