Participant roles in bullying behavior and their association with thoughts of ending one’s life
Rivers, I. and Noret, N.
Background: Studies have shown that students who are bullied at school are at an increased risk of poor mental health and suicide. Little is known, however, about those who have other participant roles in bullying interactions (e.g., bystanders).
Aims: To better understand the implications exposure to bullying has upon thoughts of ending life among students who have multiple participant roles.
Methods: This study was a cross-sectional survey of a representative sample of 2,002 students (55% boys, 45% girls) aged 12 to 16 years (M = 13.60, SD = 1.06) attending 14 schools in the North of England.
Results: The majority of students in this study were involved in bullying behavior at school as victims, bullies, bystanders, or a combination of all three. Those with multiple roles (victim, bully, and bystander) were significantly more likely to report having had thoughts of ending their life.
Conclusions: The findings from this study have significant implications for clinicians, educational, and school psychologists working with students involved in bullying behavior. Whole school antibullying initiatives are necessary to reduce the psychological distress and thoughts of ending life found among members of the school population. Further studies exploring covictimization among bystanders and revictimization among former victims of bullying are recommended.