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.
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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.
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Litwiller, B.J., Brausch, A.M. Cyber Bullying and Physical Bullying in Adolescent Suicide: The Role of Violent Behavior and Substance Use. J Youth Adolescence 42, 675–684 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-013-9925-5
- Cyber bullying
- Substance abuse