The Potential Role of Meaning in Life in the Relationship Between Bullying Victimization and Suicidal Ideation
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- Henry, K.L., Lovegrove, P.J., Steger, M.F. et al. J Youth Adolescence (2014) 43: 221. doi:10.1007/s10964-013-9960-2
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Adolescent bullying is a common problem in schools across America. The consequences of bullying are significant, and can include severe psychological trauma and suicide. A better understanding of the mechanisms that link bullying and suicidal ideation is needed in order to develop effective prevention and intervention initiatives. Meaning in life is a potential mechanism that has not been studied in this context. It was hypothesized that meaning in life could serve as both a mediator and a moderator of the relationship between bullying victimization and suicidal ideation. As a mediator, meaning in life is considered to explain why bullying victimization leads to suicidal ideation. As a moderator, meaning in life is considered to buffer the ill effect of bullying victimization on suicidal ideation. Data collected from an ethnically diverse sample of 2,936 (50 % female), 6th–12th grade students from one urban school district in the Northeastern US were used to examine the hypotheses. The model for girls was consistent with mediation (i.e., meaning in life may explain how victimization leads to suicidal ideation). The model for boys was consistent with moderation (i.e., the ill effect of victimization on suicidal ideation was attenuated as meaning in life increased). Implications for prevention are discussed.