The mediating role of emotion regulation strategies on psychopathology and suicidal behaviour following negative childhood experiences

Margaret Mc Lafferty, B Bunting, Cherie Armour , Coral Lapsley, Edel Ennis, EK Murray, Siobhan O'Neill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Childhood adversities and maladaptive parenting practices, such as parental over-control, over-protection or over-indulgence can be significant risk factors for psychopathology and suicidal behaviour. Adaptive emotion regulation strategies can be protective. However, individuals may develop maladaptive emotion regulation strategies as a result of these early life experiences.
Objective: This study aims to determine if emotion regulation strategies (reappraisal and suppression) mediate the impact of negative childhood experiences on psychological health, and to identify predictors of such strategies.
Participants and Setting: The study utilizes data from the Ulster University Student Wellbeing Study, conducted in Northern Ireland (NI) as part of the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) International College Student Initiative (n=739). The average age of participants was 21 (462 females, 274 males).
Method: Mediation analyses examined the role of emotion regulation strategies on psychopathology and suicidality following negative childhood experiences.
Results: Mediation analyses revealed that individuals with adaptive emotion regulation strategies were less likely to have psychological problems following negative childhood experiences. The reduced use of suppression was particularly important. However, males and individuals who reported parental over-control were more likely to use suppression. Non-heterosexual students were less likely to use reappraisal which can be adaptive.
Conclusions: The study highlights the importance of developing adaptive emotion regulation strategies following negative childhood experiences since such strategies may reduce psychological problems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105212
Number of pages9
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number105212
Early online date4 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Childhood adversities
  • Emotion regulation
  • Parental over-control
  • Psychopathology
  • Suicidal behavior


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