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 Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Internet use in class tied to lower test scores
16.12.2016 | Michigan State University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>