Self-disgust as a potential mechanism underlying the association between body image disturbance and suicidal thoughts and behaviours

This study examined whether self-disgust added incremental variance to and mediated the multivariate association between measures of body image disturbance and suicidal thoughts and behaviours. We hypothesized that self-disgust would be associated with suicidal ideation above the effects of body image disturbance, and that self-disgust would mediate the relationship between body image disturbance and suicidal ideation. A total of N=728 participants completed The Body Image Disturbance Questionnaire, The Self-Disgust Scale, and the Suicidal Behaviours Questionnaire-Revised. Suicidality was significantly related to increased levels of self-disgust and body image disturbance, whereas self-disgust was associated with greater body image disturbance. Linear regression analysis showed that self-disgust was associated with suicidal thoughts and behaviours, over and above the effects of body image disturbance. Multiple mediation modelling further showed that self-disgust mediated the relationship between body image disturbance and suicidal thoughts and behaviours. Our findings highlight the role of self-disgust in the context of body image disturbance and support the notion that body image disturbance is associated with aversive self-conscious emotions. Interventions aiming to reduce the risk of suicidality in people with body image disturbance may address self-disgust and negative self-conscious emotions.


University of Lincoln, College of Social Science

Umair Akram, Sheffield Hallam University, Department of Psychology, Sociology and Politics

Sarah Allen, University of Teesside, School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Law

Jodie C. Stevenson, University of Lincoln, School of Psychology

Lambros Lazarus, University of Derby, Department of Psychology

Antonia Ypsilanti, Sheffield Hallam University, Department of Psychology, Sociology and Politics

Millicent Ackroyd, University of Derby, Department of Psychology

Jessica Chester, University of Derby, Department of Psychology

Jessica Longden, Sheffield Hallam University, Department of Psychology, Sociology and Politics

Chloe Peters, Sheffield Hallam University, Department of Psychology, Sociology and Politics

Kamilla R. Irvine, University of Lincoln, School of Psychology