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Data confirms bullying as risk factor for suicide among youth

Tuesday March 11, 2014
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Bullying is a risk factor for suicidal ideation and suicide attempts by children and adolescents, according to a study, and cyberbullying appeared more strongly related to suicidal thoughts than traditional bullying.

Prior research suggests that bullying is an important risk factor for adolescent suicide, according to background information in the study, which was published March 10 on the website of JAMA Pediatrics. Overall, suicide is one of the most frequent causes of adolescent death worldwide, and 5% to 8% of adolescents in the U.S. attempt suicide during a year.

Mitch van Geel, PhD, of Leiden University, the Netherlands, and colleagues reviewed the available medical literature and identified 34 studies (with 284,375 participants) that focused on the relationship between bullying and suicidal thoughts and nine (with 70,102 participants) that focused on the relationship between bully victimization and suicide attempts.

Bullying was related to both suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts among children and adolescents, with odds ratios of both more than twice as high among study participants who had been bullied. “Analyses indicated that these results were not attributable to publication bias,” the authors wrote. “Results were not moderated by sex, age or study quality.”

Cyberbullying also appeared to be more strongly related to suicidal thoughts than traditional bullying. However, the authors warned caution when interpreting this result because they included only three studies for cyberbullying.

“This meta-analysis establishes that peer victimization is a risk factor of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts,” the authors wrote. “Efforts should continue to identify and help victims of bullying as well as to create bullying prevention and intervention programs that work.”

Study abstract: http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1840250


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