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J Interpers Violence. 2018 Aug;33(16):2602-2620. doi: 10.1177/0886260516628291. Epub 2016 Feb 9.

Retrospective Cyberbullying and Suicide Ideation: The Mediating Roles of Depressive Symptoms, Perceived Burdensomeness, and Thwarted Belongingness.

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1 Texas Tech University, Lubbock, USA.


Research suggests that being cyberbullied is associated with increased risk for suicide ideation; however, few studies have examined the underlying mechanisms of this relation, and fewer have examined this relation within a theory of suicide. Specifically, the interpersonal theory of suicide posits that thwarted belongingness (indicated by loneliness and a lack of reciprocal caring relationships) and perceived burdensomeness (indicated by feelings of liability and self-hatred) increase risk for suicide ideation. The current study aimed to examine depressive symptoms, thwarted belongingness, and perceived burdensomeness as mediators between intensity of being cyberbullied and suicide ideation. Participants were college students ( N = 348) who completed assessments of retrospective peer victimization, thwarted interpersonal needs (i.e., thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness), and suicide ideation. The results indicated that after adjusting for sexual orientation, depressive symptoms significantly mediated the relation between intensity of being cyberbullied and suicide ideation. Furthermore, depressive symptoms and perceived burdensomeness serially mediated the relation between intensity of being cyberbullied and suicide ideation; however, thwarted belongingness was not a significant mediator. Clinical and research implications, limitations, and future directions are discussed.


cyberbullying; depressive symptoms; perceived burdensomeness; suicide ideation


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