The objective of this research was to determine whether a history of school bullying victimization is associated with suicidal ideation in adult life. A random and representative sample of 2907 South Australian adults was surveyed in Autumn, 2008. Respondents were asked "When you were at school, did you experience traumatic bullying by peers that was particularly severe, for example, being frequently targeted or routinely harassed in any way by 'bullies'?" Depression was determined by the mood module of the PRIME-MD which includes a suicidal ideation question; "In the last 2 weeks, have you had thoughts that you would be better off dead or hurting yourself in some way?" The overall prevalence of suicidal ideation in postschool age respondents was 3.4% (95% confidence interval: 2.8%-4.2%) in 2008. Bullying by peers was recalled by 18.7% (17.2%-20.3%). Respondents with a history of being bullied were approximately 3 times (odds ratio: 3.2) more likely to report suicidal ideation compared with those who did not. The association between being bullied and suicidal ideation remained after controlling for both depression and sociodemographic variables (odds ratio: 2.1). The results from the present research suggest that there is a strong association between a history of childhood bullying victimization and current suicidal ideation that persists across all ages. Bullying prevention programs in schools could hold the potential for longer lasting benefits in this important area of public health.
- suicidal ideation