Understanding Linkages Between Bullying and Suicidal Ideation in a National Sample of LGB and Heterosexual Youth in the United States

Michele L. Ybarra, Kimberly J. Mitchell, Joseph G. Kosciw, Josephine D. Korchmaros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


While there is an extant research base regarding suicidal ideation in relation to bullying and peer harassment, how findings may be similar and different for lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) and non-LGB youth is less well understood. To address this gap, we analyzed data from 5,542 13- to 18-year-old youth who were nationally surveyed online in the United States in 2010. Results suggest that the relative odds of suicidal ideation are elevated for youth who are victims of bullying (OR = 5.61, 95 % CI, 4.11, 7.64), as well as those who are victims of peer harassment (OR = 2.06, 95 % CI, 1.53, 2.79). Within the context of other important factors, bullying was associated with odds of suicidal ideation twice that of non-victimized youth (aOR = 2.02, 95 % CI, 1.30, 3.13). Within sexual identity, the relation between bullying and suicidal ideation was particularly strong for gay, lesbian, and queer youth, even after adjusting for other influential factors (aOR = 6.29, 95 % CI, 2.69, 14.66). Across sexual identities, the odds of suicidal ideation are higher for bisexual youth (aOR = 1.77, 95 % CI, 1.23, 2.55) but not for other sexual minority youth when compared with otherwise similar heterosexual youth. Other factors, including depressive symptomatology and low self-esteem, were also predictive of recent ideation across all sexual identities. Findings highlight the complexity of bullying and suicidal ideation. Furthermore, given the relation between bullying and suicidal ideation, and the disproportionate level of bullying experienced by LGB youth, our findings suggest the need for more protective environments for LGB youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-462
Number of pages12
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Bullying
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual (LGB)
  • Peer victimization
  • Suicidal ideation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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