As a global phenomenon, suicide has generated a lot of concern. Scholars from various fields have conducted extensive research on the prevalence, causes, factors, and/or management or possible solutions to suicidal ideation. Despite the research efforts, suicidal cases worldwide still yell for more empirical attention. No doubt that some of the extant literature have specifically evidenced the causal links and factors in suicidal ideation. Yet, none had focused on the moderating roles of coping and resilience in an academic population. We therefore, examined the moderating roles of coping and resilience in the relationship between academic stress and suicidal ideation.
We used a cross-sectional design to sample 505 participants (329 males and 176 females) from three southern Nigerian universities. Participants who willingly indicated their participatory consent were administered a paper self-report questionnaire containing the Lakaev Academic Stress Response Scale (LASRS), Scale for Suicidal Ideation (SSI), Brief COPE (B-COPE), and Resilience Scale (RS-14). Hierarchical regression analysis was used to test the hypotheses of the study.
Academic stress (r = 0.17; p.001) was found to be positively associated with suicidal ideation, whereas resilience (r = −.22; p.001) was found to be negatively associated with suicidal ideation. Suicidal ideation had no significant correlation with adaptive coping style, but it did have a significant correlation with maladaptive coping (r = .15; p.001). The regression-based PROCESS macro showed that academic stress was a significant predictor of coping [ΔR² = .03, F (1, 502) = 16.18, p = .01]. Academic stress was positively associated with suicidal ideation at low or moderate levels of adaptive coping styles. At high levels of adaptive coping styles, the association between academic stress and suicidal ideation was not significant. However, resilience negatively predicted suicidal ideation [R = .29, (R² = .08), F(1, 499) = 19.94, p = .00] with academic stress showing a positive association with suicidal ideation at low and moderate levels of resilience, but for those with high resilience, academic stress was not associated with suicidal ideation.
In sum, suicidal ideation is heightened by increased academic stress, with greater resilience ameliorating the tendency of academic stress resulting in suicidal ideation. Also, adopting maladaptive ways of coping promotes suicidal ideation among students, with resilience and adaptive coping strategies moderating the relationship between academic stress and suicidal ideation. It is therefore recommended that educational administrators, policy makers, lecturers, teachers, and tutors incorporate courses, teachings, and sessions that foster as well as inculcate resilience and efficient coping skills in pupils and students.