Suicide ideation and attempts and bullying in children and adolescents: Psychiatric and general population samples
Mayes, S.D., Baweja, R., Calhoun, S.L., Syed, E., Mahr, F., & Siddiqui, F.
Background: Studies of the relationship between bullying and suicide behavior yield mixed results. Aims: This is the first study comparing frequencies of suicide behavior in four bullying groups (bully, victim, bully/victim, and neither) in two large psychiatric and community samples of young children and adolescents. Method: Maternal ratings of bullying and suicide ideation and attempts were analyzed for 1,291 children with psychiatric disorders and 658 children in the general population 6–18 years old. Results: For both the psychiatric and community samples, suicide ideation and attempt scores for bully/victims were significantly higher than for victims only and for neither bullies nor victims. Differences between victims only and neither victims nor bullies were nonsignificant. Controlling for sadness and conduct problems, suicide behavior did not differ between the four bullying groups. All children with suicide attempts had a comorbid psychiatric disorder, as did all but two children with suicide ideation. Conclusion: Although the contribution of bullying per se to suicide behavior independent of sadness and conduct problems is small, bullying has obvious negative psychological consequences that make intervention imperative. Interventions need to focus on the psychopathology associated with being a victim and/or perpetrator of bullying in order to reduce suicide behavior.