Longitudinal association of suicidal ideation and physical dating violence among high school students

Lusine Nahapetyan, Pamela Orpinas, Xiao Song, Kristin Holland
Journal of Youth and Adolescence 2014, 43 (4): 629-40
Two salient problems in adolescent development are dating violence and suicidal ideation. Theory and empirical research have supported their association in primarily cross-sectional studies. The purpose of this study is to examine the longitudinal association between physical dating violence and suicidal ideation (thoughts or plans) in a cohort of students evaluated annually from Grades 9 to 12. The sample consisted of 556 random-selected students (50.2 % males; 47.5 % White, 37.8 % Black, 11.2 % Latino) who reported dating at least once during the four assessments. Self-reported frequency of suicidal ideation, dating, and physical dating violence perpetration and victimization were assessed each spring from ninth to twelfth grade. We used generalized estimating equations modeling to predict the effects of sex, race, school grade, and physical dating perpetration and victimization on suicidal ideation. Cumulatively, one-fourth of the sample reported suicidal ideation at least once by the end of Grade 12, and approximately half reported physical dating violence. Female gender (OR = 1.7, p = 0.02), physical dating perpetration (OR = 1.54, p = 0.048), physical dating victimization (OR = 2.03, p < 0.001), and being in grades 9-11 versus 12 in high school (OR = 1.83, p = 0.004) were significant predictors of suicidal ideation. Race was not a significant predictor among adolescents in this sample. This longitudinal study highlights the detrimental emotional effect of physical dating violence perpetration and victimization among high school students. It is important that suicide prevention programs incorporate physical dating violence education and prevention strategies starting early in high school.

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