Repository logo

Developmental Relations Between Bullying Victimization and Suicidal Ideation in Middle Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood: Do Internalizing Problems and Substance Use Mediate Their Links?

Published version

Change log


Griffiths, Helen 
Eisner, Manuel 
Hepp, Urs 
Ribeaud, Denis 


Previous research has suggested that bullying victimization is associated with higher suicidal risk among young people; however, the mechanisms underlying this relation have not been well examined. The current study aimed to illuminate the developmental links between bullying victimization and suicidal ideation by examining the mediating roles of depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, and substance use. The study sample consisted of n = 1465 participants (51.7% male) from the normative z-proso study. Using random intercept cross-lagged panel models and three waves of longitudinal data (ages 15, 17, and 20), the hypothesized mediation effects at the within-person level were tested while partialling out between-person confounds. The results suggested that, at the within-person level, bullying victimization did not predict subsequent suicidal ideation via depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, or substance use. However, age 15 bullying victimization predicted within-person increases in age 17 depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation. In addition, depressive symptoms at age 15 and tobacco and cannabis use at age 17 were associated with within-person increases in bullying victimization at ages 17 and 20, respectively. The results also indicated that cannabis use and suicidal ideation were positively and reciprocally related over time. Future studies collecting data at multiple timescales are needed to understand proximal and longer-term mechanisms underlying the relation between bullying victimization and suicidality.



Bullying victimization, Internalizing problems, Mediation mechanisms, Substance use, Suicidal ideation, Adolescent, Adolescent Behavior, Adult, Bullying, Crime Victims, Female, Humans, Male, Substance-Related Disorders, Suicidal Ideation, Young Adult

Journal Title

J Youth Adolesc

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Swiss National Science Foundation (69025)
Swiss National Science Foundation (116829)