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Keywords:

  • Bullying;
  • peer relationships;
  • risk factors;
  • suicidal behaviour;
  • suicide ideation;
  • victimisation

Background:  Scientific studies have provided some support for a link between being a victim of bullying and suicide ideation. We examine whether (1) parental psychopathology and (2) feelings of rejection (at home and at school) exacerbate vulnerability to suicide ideation in victims of bullying (pure victims and bully-victims).

Method:  Data were from a population-based cohort study of Dutch children (= 1526, mean age = 12.29 years). Using peer nominations, three groups were established: (1) victim only; (2) bully-victims (children who are victims and who also bully others); (3) uninvolved. Self-report data on suicide ideation were obtained using two items from the Youth Self-Report (Achenbach, 1991). Parental internalising and externalising disorders were assessed, as were self-reported feelings of rejection at home and social well-being among classmates.

Results:  The association between victimisation and suicide ideation was moderated by parental internalising disorders (but not externalising disorders) and feelings of rejection at home. Victims (but not bully-victims) with parents with internalising disorders reported elevated levels of suicide ideation compared to children uninvolved in bullying. Victims feeling more rejected at home also reported more suicide ideation. There were no overall sex differences in suicide ideation. Surprisingly, bully-victims did not report higher levels of suicide ideation compared to children uninvolved in bullying.

Conclusions:  Parental internalising disorders and feelings of rejection at home confer a specific vulnerability for suicide ideation among victims of bullying.