Background Women seeking shelter from intimate partner violence (IPV) experience heightened risk for suicide ideation and attempts compared to abused and non-abused women in the general population. However, few theory-guided studies have examined what cognitive-emotional symptoms might underlie this increased risk. Methods Guided by fluid vulnerability theory, this cross-sectional, survey study tested whether depressive symptoms, PTSD symptoms, and hopelessness mediate the association between IPV (coercive control and physical violence) and suicide ideation and whether suicide attempt history facilitated these mediated relations in 134 women seeking shelter from IPV. Results Depressive symptoms, but not PTSD symptoms or hopelessness, mediated the relation between coercive control and suicide ideation, and suicide attempt history facilitated this association. No variables mediated the association between physical violence and suicide ideation. Limitations: The small sample size may have limited statistical power. The cross-sectional design precludes temporal conclusions from being drawn. Conclusions Shelter-seeking women subjected to coercive control who experience associated depressive symptoms may be at risk of suicide ideation, with history of a suicide attempt increasing this risk. Fluid vulnerability theory may help guide suicide risk assessment and intervention efforts among women seeking shelter from IPV.