The Impact of Exercise on Suicide Risk: Examining Pathways through Depression, PTSD, and Sleep in an Inpatient Sample of Veterans
Suicide has a large public health impact. Although effective interventions exist, the many people at risk for suicide cannot access these interventions. Exercise interventions hold promise in terms of reducing suicide because of their ease of implementation. While exercise reduces depression, and reductions in depressive symptoms are linked to reduced suicidal ideation, no studies have directly linked exercise and suicide risk. The current study examined this association, including potential mediators (i.e., sleep disturbance, posttraumatic stress symptoms, and depression), in a sample of Veterans. SEM analyses revealed that exercise was directly and indirectly associated with suicide risk. Additionally, exercise was associated with fewer depressive symptoms and better sleep patterns, each of which was, in turn, related to lower suicide risk.