Cyber Bullying and Physical Bullying in Adolescent Suicide: The Role of Violent Behavior and Substance Use
The impact of bullying in all forms on the mental health and safety of adolescents is of particular interest, especially in the wake of new methods of bullying that victimize youths through technology. The current study examined the relationship between victimization from both physical and cyber bullying and adolescent suicidal behavior. Violent behavior, substance use, and unsafe sexual behavior were tested as mediators between two forms of bullying, cyber and physical, and suicidal behavior. Data were taken from a large risk-behavior screening study with a sample of 4,693 public high school students (mean age = 16.11, 47 % female). The study’s findings showed that both physical bullying and cyber bullying associated with substance use, violent behavior, unsafe sexual behavior, and suicidal behavior. Substance use, violent behavior, and unsafe sexual behavior also all associated with suicidal behavior. Substance use and violent behavior partially mediated the relationship between both forms of bullying and suicidal behavior. The comparable amount of variance in suicidal behavior accounted for by both cyber bullying and physical bullying underscores the important of further cyber bullying research. The direct association of each risk behavior with suicidal behavior also underscores the importance of reducing risk behaviors. Moreover, the role of violence and substance use as mediating behaviors offers an explanation of how risk behaviors can increase an adolescent’s likelihood of suicidal behavior through habituation to physical pain and psychological anxiety.
KeywordsAdolescence Suicide Bullying Cyber bullying Substance abuse Violence
The authors would like to thank and acknowledge Gaye Harrison and the I Sing the Body Electric (888-550-7464; www.isbe.org) coalition for their support of these analyses by granting access to their existing data.
BL conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, performed the statistical analyses, participated in the interpretation of the data, and drafted the manuscript; AB participated in the design and coordination of the study, participated in the interpretation of the data, and helped to draft the manuscript; All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2008). Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Available at: www.cdc.gov/yrbss.
- Gould, M. S., King, R., Greenwald, S., Fisher, P., Schwab-Stone, M., Kramer, R., et al. (1998). Psychopathology associated with suicidal ideation and attempts among children and adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 37(9), 915–923.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2009). Monitoring the Future national results on adolescent drug use: Overview of key findings, 2008 (NIH Publication No. 09-7401).Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse.Google Scholar
- Joiner, T. E. (2005). Why people die by suicide. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Klomek, A., Sourander, A., & Gould, M. (2010). The association of suicide and bullying in childhood to young adulthood: A review of cross-sectional and longitudinal research findings. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 55(5), 282–288.Google Scholar
- Klomek, A., Sourander, A., Niemela, S., Kumpulainen, K., Piha, J., Tamminen, T., et al. (2009). Childhood bullying behaviors as a risk for suicide attempts and completed suicides: A population-based birth cohort study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 48, 254–261.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Levy, N., Cortesi, S., Crowley, E., Beaton, M., Casey, J., & Nolan, C. (2012). Bullying in a Networked Era: A Literature Review. Berkman Center Research Publication, (2012–2017).Google Scholar
- Murphy, S. L., Xu, J., & Kochanek, K. D. (2012). Deaths: preliminary data for 2012. National Vital Statistics Reports, 60, 1–51.Google Scholar
- Nickerson, A. B., & Slater, E. D. (2009). School and community violence and victimization as predictors of adolescent suicidal behavior. School Psychology Review, 38(2), 218–232.Google Scholar
- Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. Cambridge, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Van Orden, K. A., Witte, T. K., Gordon, K. H., Bender, T. W., & Joiner, T. E., Jr. (2008). Suicidal desire and the capability for suicide: Tests of the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicidal behavior among adults. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76(1), 72–83.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Ybarra, M., Mitchell, K., & Espelage, D. (2012). Comparisons of bully and unwanted sexual experiences online and offline among a national sample of youth. In Ö. Özdemir (Ed.) Complementary Pediatrics. InTech.Google Scholar