News Release 

Trauma begets trauma: Bullying associated with increased suicide attempts among 12-to-15-year-olds

International study finds bullying victimization is associated with suicide attempts across 48 countries

Elsevier

Washington, DC, August 15, 2019 - A new study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP), published by Elsevier, reports that bullying victimization may increase the risk of suicide attempts among young adolescents by approximately three-times worldwide.

"Globally, approximately 67,000 adolescents die of suicide each year and identifying modifiable risk factors for adolescent suicide is a public health priority," said lead author Ai Koyanagi, MD, and Research Professor at Parc Sanitari Sant Joan de Deu, Barcelona, Spain.

The findings are based on nationally representative data collected through the World Health Organization's (WHO) Global School-based Student Health Survey, which is a school-based survey conducted in multiple countries across the globe.

The study included 134,229 school-going adolescents aged between 12 and 15 years from 48 countries across five WHO regions, including Africa, the Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean, South-East Asia, and the Western Pacific. The sample was comprised of nine high-income-, 33 middle-income-, and 6 low-income-countries.

The researchers found that more than 30 percent of the adolescents experienced bullying in the past 30 days. Adolescents who were bullied were approximately three-times more likely to report having attempted suicide than those who were not bullied regardless of region.

Dr. Koyanagi and her team also found that the greater number of days adolescents reported being bullied, the more likely they were to report a suicide attempt. When compared to participants who were not bullied, being bullied on more than 20 days in the past 30 was associated with a 5.51 times increased likelihood of reporting suicide attempts.

"The high prevalence of bullying victimization and the substantially heightened dose-dependent risk for suicide attempts among adolescent bullying victims, across multiple continents found in our study, point to the urgent need to implement effective and evidence-based interventions to address bullying for the prevention of adolescent suicides and suicide attempts worldwide," concluded Dr. Koyanagi.

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Notes for editors

The article is "Bullying Victimization and Suicide Attempt Among Adolescents Aged 12-15 Years From 48 Countries" Ai Koyanagi, MD, MSc, PhD, Hans Oh, PhD, Andre F. Carvalho, MD, Lee Smith, PhD, Josep Maria Haro, MD, Davy Vancampfort, PhD, Brendon Stubbs, PhD, Jordan E. DeVylder, PhD (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2018.10.018). It currently appears on the JAACAP Articles In Press page and will appear in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, volume 58, issue 9 (September 2019), published by Elsevier.

Ai Koyanagi is a medical doctor with training in psychiatry, general medicine, gastroenterology, and tropical medicine. She has a Master's degree in Tropical Medicine from the University of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK (2003) and a PhD in International Health (Global Disease Epidemiology and Control) from Johns Hopkins University, USA (2008). She is currently conducting research at Parc Sanitari Sant Joan de Deu, Barcelona, Spain, as a Research Professor at the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies. Her main research interest is focused on the identification of risk factors for mental disorders in low- and middle-income-countries using large population-based multi-country datasets.

Copies of this paper are available to credentialed journalists upon request; please contact Mary Billingsley at mbillingsley@aacap.org or +1 202 587 9672. Journalists wishing to interview the authors may contact Ai Koyanagi, MD, PhD, Parc Sanitari Sant Joan de Deu, 42 Dr. Antoni Pujadas, Sant Boi de Llobregat, 08830, Barcelona, Spain at a.koyanagi@pssjd.org.

About JAACAP

Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) is the official publication of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. JAACAP is the leading journal focusing exclusively on today's psychiatric research and treatment of the child and adolescent. Published twelve times per year, each issue is committed to its mission of advancing the science of pediatric mental health and promoting the care of youth and their families.

The Journal's purpose is to advance research, clinical practice, and theory in child and adolescent psychiatry. It is interested in manuscripts from diverse viewpoints, including genetic, epidemiological, neurobiological, cognitive, behavioral, psychodynamic, social, cultural, and economic. Studies of diagnostic reliability and validity, psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacological treatment efficacy, and mental health services effectiveness are encouraged. The Journal also seeks to promote the well-being of children and families by publishing scholarly papers on such subjects as health policy, legislation, advocacy, culture and society, and service provision as they pertain to the mental health of children and families. http://www.jaacap.org

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a global information analytics business that helps scientists and clinicians to find new answers, reshape human knowledge, and tackle the most urgent human crises. For 140 years, we have partnered with the research world to curate and verify scientific knowledge. Today, we're committed to bringing that rigor to a new generation of platforms. Elsevier provides digital solutions and tools in the areas of strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support, and professional education; including ScienceDirect, Scopus, SciVal, ClinicalKey and Sherpath. Elsevier publishes over 2,500 digitized journals, including The Lancet and Cell, 39,000 e-book titles and many iconic reference works, including Gray's Anatomy. Elsevier is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. http://www.elsevier.com

Media contact

Mary Billingsley
JAACAP
+1 202 587 9672
mbillingsley@aacap.org

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