Bi-directional longitudinal associations between different types of bullying victimization, suicide ideation/attempts, and depression among a large sample of European adolescents

Anat Brunstein Klomek, Shira Barzilay, Alan Apter, Vladimir Carli, Christina W. Hoven, Marco Sarchiapone, Gergö Hadlaczky, Judit Balazs, Agnes Kereszteny, Romuald Brunner, Michael Kaess, Julio Bobes, Pilar A. Saiz, Doina Cosman, Christian Haring, Raphaela Banzer, Elaine McMahon, Helen Keeley, Jean Pierre Kahn, Vita PostuvanTina Podlogar, Merike Sisask, Airi Varnik, Danuta Wasserman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The association between bullying victimization and depression, suicide ideation and suicide attempts has been studied mainly in cross-sectional studies. This study aims to test the bidirectional effect and the chronicity versus sporadic effect of physical, verbal, and relational bullying victimization on suicidal ideation/attempts and depression. Methods: Longitudinal assessments with an interval of 3- and 12-months were performed within a sample of 2,933 adolescents (56.1% females; mean age 14.78, SD =.89) from 10 European countries, participating in the Saving and Empowering Young Lives in Europe (SEYLE) school-based multicenter control sample. Multilevel Structural Equation Models were used, controlling for sociodemographic variables. Victimization was considered chronic when a student was victimized in the first two time points and sporadic when it was reported only at one point but not in another. Results: Bidirectional prospective association between all types of victimization and depression were found. Among participants, who reported victimization once (but not twice), physical victimization, but not verbal and relational, was associated with later suicidal ideation and attempts. Chronic victimization of any type increased likelihood for later depression compared with sporadic and no-victimization. Chronic relational victimization increased the likelihood of later suicidal ideation, and chronic physical victimization increased the likelihood for suicidal attempts. Conclusions: The results support the bidirectional effect of victimization and depression and indicate that there are complex longitudinal associations between victimization and suicidal ideation/attempts. Physical victimization may especially carry effect on suicidal risk over time. Interventions should focus on victimization as a cause of distress but also aim to prevent vulnerable adolescents from becoming targets of victimization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-215
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The SEYLE project is supported by the European Union through the Seventh Framework Program (FP7), Grant agreement number HEALTH-F2-2009-223091. The SEYLE Project Leader and Principal Investigator is Danuta Wasserman, Professor in Psychiatry and Suicidology, National Center for Suicide Research and Prevention of Mental Ill-Health (NASP) Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden. The Executive Committee comprises Professor Danuta Wasserman and Senior Lecturer Vladimir Carli, both from the NASP, Sweden; Professor Marco Sarchiapone, NASP, Italy; and Professor Christina W. Hoven and Anthropologist Camilla Wasserman from Columbia University, New York, NY, USA. The SEYLE Consortium includes sites in 12 European countries. Site leaders are Danuta Wasserman (NASP, coordinating center), Christian Haring (Austria), Airi Varnik (Estonia), Jean-Pierre Kahn (France), Romuald Brunner (Germany), Judit Balazs (Hungary), Paul Corcoran (Ireland), Alan Apter (Israel), Marco Sarchiapone (Italy), Doina Cosman (Romania), Vita Postuvan (Slovenia) and Julio Bobes (Spain). The authors have declared that they have no competing or potential conflicts of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.


  • Bullying
  • depression
  • prevention
  • suicide
  • suicide attempt
  • suicide ideation
  • victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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