Suicidal ideation among suburban adolescents: The influence of school bullying and other mediating risk factors
AbstractObjective: Prior research has identified multiple factors that influence suicidal ideation (SI) among bullied youth. The effects of school bullying on SI cannot be considered in isolation. In this study, we examined the influence of school bullying on SI, through a constellation of risks, which include depressive and anxiety symptoms, family conflict, and alcohol, tobacco, and other drug (ATOD) use. We also provide recommendations for therapists working with bullied youth.
Method: Our sample consisted of 488 adolescents (ages 10-18 years) from a northern New Jersey, United States suburban community. Students were recruited through the district’s physical education and health classes. Students responded to multiple measures, which included family cohesion/conflict, ATOD use, mental health indicators, SI, and school bullying experiences. Following preliminary analyses, several logistic regression models were used to assess the direct influence of bullying on SI, as well as the unique effects of family conflict, depressive and anxiety symptoms, and substance use. In addition, a parallel multiple mediating model with the PROCESS macro in SPSS was used to further assess mediating effects.
Results: Logistic regression results indicated that school bullying increased the odds of SI among males and females and that when mediating variables were added to the model, bullying no longer had a significant influence on SI. Overall, these results display that for both males and females, school bullying was a significant contributor to SI. Results from the parallel multiple mediating model further illustrated the mediating effects that family conflict, depression, and ATOD use had between bullying and SI. Some variation was noted based on gender.
Conclusion: This study draws attention to the multiple experiences associated with school bullying on SI, and how these results may differ by gender. The results of this study are particularly important for those working directly and indirectly with bullied youth. Therapists that engage bullied youth need to consider the multiple spheres of influence that may increase SI among male and female clients. To holistically and adequately assess SI among bullied youth, therapists must also consider how these mechanisms vary between gender groups.