Prospective Relations between Peer Victimization and Suicidal Ideation: An Examination of Cognitive Mediators
Roeder, Kathryn Mary
The experience of peer victimization predicts future suicidal thoughts and behaviors in adolescents and adults; however, little is known about intermediary cognitive processes that underlie this relation. The present study tested whether cognitive risk factors for suicidality as proposed by Beck (i.e., hopelessness) and Joiner (i.e., perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness) mediate the longitudinal relation between peer victimization and suicidal ideation (Beck, 1974; Joiner, 2005). Self-reports of peer victimization (PV), hopelessness, perceived burdensomeness (PB), thwarted belongingness (TB), and suicidal ideation (SI) were obtained from 192 high school students and 142 undergraduates in a two-wave longitudinal study. Analyses were conducted with a half-longitudinal design, and three key results emerged. First, PV longitudinally predicted perceived burdensomeness, but not hopelessness or thwarted belongingness, in both samples. Second, hopelessness, PB, and TB each predicted future suicidal ideation, but when all three variables were included in a single model, none emerged as a unique predictor of SI. Third, contrary to Joiner’s model, the PBxTB interaction did not predict future suicidal ideation. These results support perceived burdensomeness as a mediator between peer victimization and suicidal ideation, and they provide future directions for research on Beck’s and Joiner’s models of suicidal ideation.