Insomnia and the Interpersonal Theory of suicide among civilians, service members, and veterans

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Background: Insomnia is associated with suicide risk in civilian and military populations. Thwarted belongingness is proposed as a mediator of this relationship under the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide (IPTS). The present study explored how insomnia relates to suicidal ideation in conjunction with thwarted belongingness among civilians, Service members, and Veterans. Methods. Data from the Military Suicide Research Consortium for N = 6556 individuals (6316 with non-missing suicidal ideation status) were divided into 4 subgroups: civilians, never deployed Service members, previously deployed Service members, and Veterans. Robust Poisson models evaluated the associations between insomnia severity/subtype and current suicidal ideation, with bootstrap mediation models assessing thwarted belongingness as a mediator. Results. A 5-point increase in insomnia severity was associated with a 38% increased risk for current suicidal ideation among civilians, a 56% greater risk among never deployed Service members, an 83% greater risk among previously deployed Service members, and a 37% greater risk among Veterans. Moreover, active Service members showed greater associations between difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep with suicidal ideation than civilians. These associations were independent of covariates and only mediated by thwarted belongingness among Veterans. Conclusions. The relationship between insomnia and suicide is not purely explained by thwarted belongingness except among Veterans. Future research should explore additional psychological and neurobiological mechanisms connecting insomnia and suicidality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)534-541
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • Insomnia
  • Interpersonal theory of suicide
  • MSRC
  • Suicidal ideation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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