Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Friendships play key role in suicidal thoughts of girls, but not boys

07.01.2004


Relationships with friends play a significant role in whether teenage girls think about suicide, but have little impact on suicidal thoughts among boys, according to a new nationwide study.

The research found that girls were nearly twice as likely to think about suicide if they had only a few friends and felt isolated from their peers. Girls were also more likely to consider suicide if their friends were not friends with each other.

These relationship factors had no significant effect on whether boys considered suicide.



“Close friendships appear to be much more important for adolescent girls than they are for boys, and problems with these relationships have major impacts on girls’ mental health,” said James Moody, co-author of the study and assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State University.

“Boys tend to hang out in groups, and close relationships do not seem to be as important to them.”

Another key finding was that there was no way to tell which teenagers who are thinking about suicide will actually attempt it.

Moody conducted the study with Peter Bearman of the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia University. Their findings appear in the January 2004 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

The researchers used data on 13,465 adolescents in grades 7 through 12 from across the United States. The students participated in the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health. They completed a survey in school and then were interviewed in their homes one year later. They were asked, among many other things, about their friendships, whether they had thought about suicide in the past year and whether they had attempted suicide in the past year.

Moody said he wasn’t surprised that friendships played a larger role for girls than for boys, but he was surprised at the size of the difference.

“I think everyone expected there to be differences between boys and girls, but we didn’t expect to find that friendships would have essentially no major effect on whether boys considered suicide,” he said.

For girls, those who felt isolated and friendless were at as great a risk for considering suicide as girls who knew someone who had committed suicide.

“Whenever a young person commits suicide, a school will send out counselors to help other students,” Moody said. “But there is just as much risk of suicidal thoughts among adolescent girls who feel isolated. We need to provide help to these students, too.”

Another important finding was that girls had increased risk of suicidal thoughts if people they listed as friends did not name each other as friends.

“When girls are stuck between friends who don’t get along, it puts them under a huge amount of stress,” Moody said. “The more that happens, the more likely a girl is to think about suicide.”

As other studies have shown, both boys and girls were more likely to attempt suicide if they had a friend who attempted suicide. Boys were less likely to attempt suicide if they attended schools in which the friendship network was dense and interlocked – in other words, where many of the boys shared the same friends.

But why do dense friendship networks seem to prevent suicide attempts in boys, but friendship doesn’t seem to affect suicidal thoughts?

Moody said the question needs more study, but it may be that boys don’t share their thoughts about suicide with friends, but they may admit when they are planning to attempt suicide.

“In a school where there are a lot of interlocking relationships, there are many people who may hear a suicidal boy talking and help him get the support he needs. Boys may not tell people what they are thinking about, but they may talk about what they might do.”

But overall, Moody said there wasn’t a clear pattern indicating which adolescents who were thinking about suicide would eventually attempt it.

“Essentially, once adolescents start thinking about suicide the factors that trigger an actual attempt are largely random. That means that we have to identify and help any teenager who is thinking about suicide. It is better to get a few false positives than to miss some of them,” he said.

The results of the study offer several suggestions for identifying and helping adolescents at risk for suicide, Moody said. In addition to the friendship findings, the study mirrored other studies that show teens are less at risk if they participate in more activities with their parents and if they attend church regularly.

“Parents should talk often to their children, do things with them and, if they’re religious, take them to church,” he said.

Teachers and parents also need to look for adolescents, especially girls, who don’t seem to be socially connected to their peers, or who have friends who don’t get along.

“Changing schools, joining clubs, participating in more extracurricular activities -- all could help adolescents who are at risk for thinking about suicide,” he said.

The National Institutes of Health funded the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which was the data set used in this research.


Contact: James Moody, (614) 292-1722; Moody.77@osu.edu
Written by Jeff Grabmeier, (614) 292-8457; Grabmeier.1@osu.edu

Jeff Grabmeier | OSU
Further information:
http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/suicfrnd.htm

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>