Objective: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disabling mental health problem that affects a significant proportion of the general population. Experiential avoidance appears to account for the development of anxiety and depressive symptoms. However, its relationship with OCD has yielded contradictory results. Furthermore, although obsessive-compulsive disorder-specific thoughts and behaviors, including obsessing, checking, washing, and ordering, have been suggested to significantly predict suicidal ideation and behaviors, this line of research has received scant empirical attention. The overarching aim of this study was to explore the relationship between OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder-specific behaviors, experiential avoidance and suicidal experiences.

Methods: Overall, 1,046 adults from the community who completed self-report scales participated.

Results: Strong links between overall OCD severity, obsessing, experiential avoidance, and suicidal experiences were established. Results from mediational analyses showed that overall OCD severity and individual obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviors were both directly and indirectly linked with suicidal experiences, via experiential avoidance. Obsessing was among the critical obsessive-compulsive symptoms leading to suicidal experiences.

Conclusions: These findings are important because they identify experiential avoidance as a potential key explanatory construct in accounting for the development of OCD and suicidal experiences. However, future research using longitudinal and/or experimental designs is needed to infer causality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-371
Number of pages13
JournalSuicide and Life Threatening Behavior
Issue number2
Early online date25 Sep 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Sep 2019

    Research areas

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder, experiential avoidance, suicidal thoughts and behaviors

ID: 3452241