Bullying Victimization and Suicide Attempt Among Adolescents Aged 12–15 Years From 48 Countries

Ai Koyanagi, Hans Oh, Andre F. Carvalho, Lee Smith, Josep Maria Haro, Davy Vancampfort, Brendon Stubbs, Jordan E. DeVylder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Adolescent suicide is a global public health problem. Bullying is a risk factor for suicidality in adolescence; however, global data on its association with suicide attempts are lacking, and data from low- and middle-income countries and non-Western settings are scarce. Thus, this study assessed the association between bullying victimization and suicide attempts using data from 48 countries (predominantly low- and middle-income countries) across multiple continents. Method: Data from the Global School-based Student Health Survey were analyzed. Data on past 12-month suicide attempts and past 30-day bullying victimization were collected. Multivariable logistic regression and meta-analysis with random effects were conducted to assess the associations. Results: The final sample consisted of 134,229 adolescents 12 to 15 years of age. The overall prevalences of suicide attempts and bullying victimization were 10.7% and 30.4%, respectively. After adjustment for sex, age, and socioeconomic status, bullying victimization was significantly associated with higher odds for a suicide attempt in 47 of the 48 countries studied, with the pooled odds ratio being 3.06 (95% CI 2.73–3.43). A larger number of days bullied in the past month was dose-dependently associated with higher odds for suicide attempts. The past-year prevalence of suicide attempts ranged from 5.9% for the “no bullying” group up to 32.7% for the “being bullied for 20 to 30 days/month” group (odds ratio 5.51, 95% CI 4.56–6.65). Conclusion: Bullying victimization could be an important risk factor of suicide attempts among adolescents globally. Thus, there is an urgent need to implement effective and evidence-based interventions to address bullying to prevent suicides and suicide attempts among adolescents worldwide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)907-918.e4
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • bullying
  • global health
  • peer victimization
  • suicide attempt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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