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Do We Belong? Examining the Associations Between Adolescents’ Perceptions of School Belonging, Teacher Discrimination, Peer Prejudice and Suicide

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Abstract

In the USA, suicide is a leading cause of death for adolescents ages 12 to 18 (National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 2019). Given the urgency of this public health crisis, this paper aims to explore the impact of a sense of school belonging and teacher-based discrimination and peer-based prejudice on suicidal ideation and attempts among Black youth. This secondary analysis used a sample of Black youth (N = 4229; Mage = 16) from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescents to Adult Health data. Independent variables included a sense of school belonging, school-based teacher discrimination, and school-based peer prejudice; the dependent variable was suicidal thoughts and behaviors. The results of multinomial regression analyses revealed that as Black adolescents’ sense of school belonging decreased, they were 35% more likely to be at risk for suicidal ideation and attempts. Findings from our study support the assertion that the school microsystem plays a substantial role in modifying the risk of suicidal behavior among Black youth.

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Boyd, D.T., Gale, A., Quinn, C.R. et al. Do We Belong? Examining the Associations Between Adolescents’ Perceptions of School Belonging, Teacher Discrimination, Peer Prejudice and Suicide. J. Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities 11, 1454–1464 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40615-023-01622-5

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