Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-xm8r8 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-20T17:11:16.524Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

The relationship between bullying, depression and suicidal thoughts/behaviour in Irish adolescents

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 June 2014

Carla Mills
Department of Child and Family Psychiatry, Mater Hospital, North Circular Road, Dublin 7
Suzanne Guerin
Department of Psychology, University College Dublin
Fionnuala Lynch
Department of Child and Family Psychiatry, Mater Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
Irenee Daly
Department of Child and Family Psychiatry, Mater Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
Carol Fitzpatrick
Department of Child and Family Psychiatry, Mater Hospital, Dublin, Ireland


Objectives: This study examined the prevalence of depressive symptoms, including suicidal ideation/behaviour, among bullied and non-bullied young people.

Methods: Participants were 209 students, 97 male and 112 female, attending eight urban post-primary schools and aged between 12 and 15 years. Participants were interviewed using the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School Aged Children – Present and Lifetime Version, the Hopelessness Scale for Children, the Scale for Suicide Ideation, and the Suicide Intent Scale.

Results: Data were analysed using a series of non-parametric comparison tests. Being a victim of bullying was found to be significantly associated with depression (χ2 = 10.986; df = 1; p = 0.001) and suicidal ideation (χ2 = 5.811; df = 1; p = 0.022). Results also indicated that victims were more likely to have reported a suicide attempt (χ2 = 5.995; df = 1; p = 0.022). Finally, those bullied were significantly more likely to have been referred to psychiatric services (χ2 = 6.661; df = 1;p = 0.011).

Conclusions: These findings suggest that the issue of bullying needs to be re-addressed within Irish schools, with particular emphasis placed on further investigation into the psychological consequences thereof.

Original Papers
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2004

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


1.Boulton, MJ, Underwood, K. Bully/victim problems among middle school children. Br J Educ Psychol 1992; 62: 7387.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
2.Craig, WM. The relationship among bullying, victimisation, depression, anxiety, and aggression in elementary school children. Pers Indiv Dif 1998; 24: 123130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
3.Lawlor, M. Suicidal ideation in adolescence as a result of bullying: The importance of asking. Int J Clin Medicine 2001; 31 (11): 4346.Google Scholar
4.Rigby, K, Slee, PT. Dimensions of interpersonal relating among Australian school children: implications for psychological well-being. J Soc Psychol 1993; 131: 615–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
5.Slee, PT. Peer victimisation and its relationship to depression among Australian Primary school students. Pers Indiv Dif 1995; 18: 5762.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
6.Whitney, I, Smith, PK. A survey of the nature and extent of bullying in junior/middle and secondary schools. Educational Research 1993; 35: 325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
7.Mynard, H, Joseph, S, Alexander, J. Peer-victimisation and posttraumatic stress in adolescents. Pers Individ Dif 2000; 29: 815821.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
8.Smith, PK, Sharp, S, editors. School Bullying: Insights and Perspectives. London: Routledge, 1994.Google Scholar
9.Wolke, D, Woods, S, Bloomfield, L, Karstadt, L. The association between direct and relational bullying and behaviour problems among primary school children. J Child Psychol Psychiatr 2000; 41(8): 9891002.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
10.Kumpulainen, K, Räsänen, E, Henttoned, I. Children involved in bullying: Psychological disturbance and the persistence of the involvement. Child Abuse and Negl 1999; 23(12): 12531262.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
11.O'Moore, AM, Hillery, B. Bullying in Dublin schools. The Irish Journal of Psychology 1989; 10(3): 426441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
12.O'Moore, AM, Kirkham, C, Smith, M. Bullying behaviour in Irish schools: A nationwide study. The Irish Journal of Psychology 197; 18(2): 141169.Google Scholar
13.Farrington, DP. Understanding and preventing bullying. In: Tonry, M, Morris, N, editors. Crime and justice: An Annual Review of Research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993; 17: 381458Google Scholar
14.Stephenson, P, Smith, D. Bullying in the junior school. In: Tattum, D, Lane, D, editors, Bullying in Schools. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books, 1989.Google Scholar
15.Olweus, D. Victimisation by peers: Antecedents and long-term outcomes. In: Rubin, KH, Asendorpf, JB, editors. Social Withdrawal, Inhibition and Shyness in Childhood. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1993: 315341Google Scholar
16.Williams, K, Chambers, C, Logan, S, Robinson, D. Association of common health symptoms with bullying in primary school children. BMJ 1996; 313: 1719.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
17.Kumpulainen, K, Räsänen, E, Henttonen, I, Almqvist, F, Kresanov, K, Linna, SL, Moilanen, I, Piha, J, Puura, K, Tamminen, T. Bullying and psychiatric symptoms among elementary school-age children. Child Abuse and Negl 1998; 22(7): 705717.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
18.Faust, J, Forehand, R. Adolescent physical complaints as a function of anxiety due to familial and peer stress; A causal model. J Anxiety Disord 1994; 8: 139153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
19.Dawkins, J, Hill, P. Bullying: another form of abuse. In: David, TJ, editor. Recent Advances in Paediatrics. Edinburgh, UK: Livingstone, 1995: 103122.Google Scholar
20.O'Sullivan, M, Fitzgerald, M. Suicidal ideation and acts of self-harm. J Adolesc 1998; 21: 427433.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
21.Salmon, G, James, A, Smith, DM. Bullying in schools: Self reported anxiety, depression, and self esteem in secondary school children. BMJ 1998; 317: 924925.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
22.Kaltiala-Heino, R. Bullying, depression, and suicidal ideation in Finnish adolescents: School survey. BMJ 1999; 319: 348513.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
23.Roland, E. Bullying, depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts. Educational Research 2002; 44(1): 5567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
24.James, D, Sofroniou, N, Lawlor, M. Analysis of emotional response to being bullied. Cited in Lawler M. Suicidal ideation in adolescence as a result of bullying: The importance of asking. Int J Clin Med 2001; 31 (11): 4346.Google Scholar
25.Lynch, F., Mills, C., Daly, I., Fitzpatrick, C.Challenging Times: A study to detect Irish Adolescents at risk of psychiatric disorders and suicidal ideation. J Adolesc 2004; 27(4): 441451.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
26.Lynch, F., Mills, C., Daly, I., Fitzpatrick, C.Challenging Times: Prevalence of psychiatric disorders and suicidal behaviour in Irish Adolescents. J Adolesc. Under Review.Google Scholar
27.Goodman, R. The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire: A research note. J Child Psychol Psychiatr 1997; 38: 582586.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
28.Goodman, R, Ford, T, Simmons, H, Gatward, R, Meltzer, H. Using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) to screen for child psychiatric disorders in a community sample. Br J Psychiatry 2000; 177: 534539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
29.Kovacs, M. The Children's Depression Inventory (CDI). Psychopharmacol Bull 1985; 21: 995997.Google ScholarPubMed
30.Kovacs, M. Children's Depression Inventory Manual. New York: Multi-Health Systems Inc, 1992.Google Scholar
31.Kaufman, J, Birmaher, B, Brent, D, Rao, U, Ryan, N. (1996). Kiddie SADS-Present and Lifetime Version (KSADS-PL). Unpublished instrument. Cited In: Kaufman J et al. Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Aged Children – Present and Lifetime (KSADS-PL): Initial reliability and validity data. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatr 1997; 36: 980988.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
32.Kaufman, Jet al.Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Aged Children – Present and Lifetime (KSADS-PL): Initial reliability and validity data. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatr 1997; 36: 980988.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
33.American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM IV). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 1994.Google Scholar
34.Beck, AT, Kovacs, M, Weissman, A. Assessment of suicidal intention: The Scale for Suicidal Ideation. J Consult Clin Psychol 1979; 47(2): 343352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
35.Beck, AT, Schuyler, D, Herman, I. Development of suicidal intent scales. In: Beck, AT, Resnik, HLP, Letteri, D, editors. The Prediction of Suicide. Bowie, Md: Charles Press, 1974: 4556.Google Scholar
36.Byrne, B. Bullies and victims in a school setting with reference to some Dublin schools. Irish Journal of Psychology 1994; 15: 574586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar