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 New measure for the wellbeing of populations could replace Human Development Index
07.11.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Because not only arguments count
30.10.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik in den Naturwissenschaften (MPIMIS)

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

Im Focus: Largest, fastest array of microscopic 'traffic cops' for optical communications

The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...

Im Focus: A long-distance relationship in femtoseconds

Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.

Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...

Im Focus: Researchers 3D print metamaterials with novel optical properties

Engineers create novel optical devices, including a moth eye-inspired omnidirectional microwave antenna

A team of engineers at Tufts University has developed a series of 3D printed metamaterials with unique microwave or optical properties that go beyond what is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

New automated biological-sample analysis systems to accelerate disease detection

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

18.04.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

New eDNA technology used to quickly assess coral reefs

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>