Category: Suicide and Self-Injury
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents aged 12-19 (CDC, 2010). Bullying is a common phenomenon during this period and bullying has been hypothesized to affect academic performance, physical health, mental well being, and general functioning. Much of the research on bullying and suicidal behavior to date has been either cross-sectional or correlational in nature, and researchers and policy-makers would greatly benefit from a better understanding of the direct effects of bullying on adolescent suicidal behaviors to inform intervention work. The present study uses data from the 2015 administration of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBSS), which includes a nationally representative sample of adolescents from high schools in the United States. We quantified the causal association between report of bullying (both at school and electronically) and suicide attempts, after adjusting for confounding variables (i.e. sexual orientation, body mass index (BMI), substance use, etc.) identified with the PC algorithm. We found that bullying and electronic bullying were significantly associated with suicide attempts in adjusted Poisson regression and logistic regression models. Bullying had an estimated average causal effect (ACE) of 2.46%, while ebullying had an ACE of 4.16% using the backdoor method. These findings highlight the strong association between bullying and suicide attempts, although longitudinal data are needed to confirm these findings.