Resilience to suicidality: the buffering hypothesis

Judith Johnson, Alex M. Wood, Patricia Gooding, Peter J. Taylor, Nicholas Tarrier

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

240 Citations (Scopus)


Recent years have seen a growing interest into resilience to suicidality, which has been described as a perception or set of beliefs which buffer individuals from suicidality in the face of stressors. The current review extends this research by introducing the buffering hypothesis, a framework for the investigation of resilience to suicidality. The key proposal of this is that psychological resilience factors should be viewed as existing on a separate dimension to risk which acts to moderate the impact of risk on suicidality. Furthermore, like risk factors, resilience factors are bipolar, with their positive pole conferring resilience and their negative pole acting to amplify suicidality. Seventy-seven studies were identified which investigated (a) whether psychological moderators of risk exist and (b) the particular psychological constructs which may act as moderators. The review found strong support for the existence of psychological moderators and indicated a moderating impact of attributional style, perfectionism, agency and hopelessness. These findings support the buffering hypothesis and suggest that a range of psychological factors may confer resilience to suicidality. These results suggest that the identification of moderators may improve estimates of suicide risk and that the development of buffering factors could be a key focus of suicide interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563-591
Number of pages29
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Issue number4
Early online date12 Jan 2011
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Resilience
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Suicide


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