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Bhatta, M.P., Shakya, S., & Jefferis, E. (2014). Association of being bullied in school with suicide ideation and planning among rural middle school adolescents. Journal of School Health, 84, 731-738.

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Bullying and peer victimization in adolescents is correlated with adverse mental and physical health and engagement in other risky behaviors. Involvement in bullying behaviors is higher among girls and younger students. In addition, certain subgroups of adolescents such as gays and lesbians are more likely to be bullied than heterosexual youths.

Method: 1,082 middle school adolescents in Ohio completed the Middle School Youth Risk Behavior Survey instrument in 2009 and 2012. To measure suicide ideation, the participants were asked to provide a ‘‘yes’’ or a ‘‘no’’ response to the question:

‘‘have you ever seriously thought about killing yourself?’’ To measure suicide plan, the participants were asked to provide a ‘‘yes’’ or a ‘‘no’’ response to the question: ‘‘have you ever made a plan about how you would kill yourself?’’ The participants were also asked to respond to the question: ‘‘Have you ever been bullied on school property?’’ with a ‘‘yes’’ or a ‘‘no’’ response.

Results: Overall, 43.1% of participants reported ever being bullied in school, and 22.3% and 13.2% of the adolescents surveyed reported suicide ideation and planning. The prevalence of suicide ideation among adolescents reporting ever being bullied in school was 30.0% compared with 13.8% among those who did not report being bullied. The prevalence of suicide planning among adolescents reporting ever being bullied in school was 20.2% compared with 8.0% among those who did not report being bullied. Being bullied in school was significantly associated with suicide ideation and planning.

Discussion: More than 1 in 5 adolescents had ever thought about and more than 1 in 10 had ever seriously made a plan to kill themselves. Schools should identify at-risk individuals in middle school for targeted bullying and conduct suicide prevention programs in the schools.