Year: 2021 Source: Archives of Suicide Research. (2021). 25(3), 672-689. DOI: 10.1080/13811118.2020.1746939 SIEC No: 20210741

Peers play a significant role in adolescent mental well-being and suicidality. While social integration among peers is often assumed to benefit mental health, a growing literature recognizes that peer relationships can increase suicidality. Conceptualizing friends’ disclosure of mental distress as a stressor on teens’ own mental health clarifies how distressed peers relate to suicidal ideation given integration in key social contexts, such as school. This study applies the stress process to examine peer depression and self-harm disclosure as stressors predicting teens’ suicidal ideation. Using cross-sectional data from an understudied context, youth in Saudi Arabia (n = 545, 50% female, mean age = 16.8), models find friends’ disclosure of depression and self-harm are associated with adolescents’ higher suicidal ideation net of their own depression. Teens who are more attached to school see higher risk of suicidality from friends’ depression, while friends’ self-harm predicts higher suicidality overall. Results challenge assumptions of uniformly beneficial social integration by indicating that friends’ mental distress, particularly self-harm, can act as a stressor increasing youth suicidality.