Suicide Prevention: Bullying and Depression

Problem Statement

Suicide is among the leading causes of death in the globe, and it is closely associated with stress and depression both in childhood and later in adulthood. In the US, “suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents aged between 12 and 18 years” (Espelage and Holt 30). It is estimated that 14% of the American school-going children seriously consider suicide while 6 percent of the children commit suicide annually (Borowsky, Taliaferro, and McMorris 8). Bullying in schools has escalated in the last few decades even as nations enact stringent legislations to mitigate the vice. The study is important to the field of psychology since bullying is said to cause psychiatric problems that result in suicide later in adulthood.

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Statement of purpose

The purpose of the research shall be to explore the relationship between childhood bullying and suicide attempts during adulthood. The research shall employ a qualitative method of data collection and analysis to unravel the relationship. Interviews shall be used to collect data from the recruited sample, which will be recorded for further analysis in the sampling stage. The sample shall be drawn from a cross-section of elementary and secondary schoolchildren who have had a bullying experience. Interviews are chosen for this study since they offer first-hand information regarding the situation under investigation. They are also suitable for this research since it is a qualitative type of research.

Research Questions

The study shall be premised on the following two research questions:

  1. Is there any connection between bullying and suicidal behaviors, e.g., suicidal ideation and suicide attempts, in adolescents in the United States?
  2. Is there any association between gender and being bullied in the risk of suicidal behaviors?

Klomek, Anat Brunstein, Marjorie Kleinman, Elizabeth Altschuler, Frank Marrocco, Lia Amakawa, and Madelyn Gould. “Suicidal adolescents’ experiences with bullying perpetration and victimization during high school as risk factors for later depression and suicidality.” Journal of Adolescent Health 53.1 (2013): 37-42.

A specific qualitative design

The researchers adopted a historical qualitative research design whereby they developed the research question after reviewing the literature. In a historical research design, the researchers assess past events and connect them to the present events and the anticipated future effects (Klomek et al. 38).

The population and sample

The study recruited 3635 students, but only 2,342 students participated in the study. The high dropout rate was due to the parents and students’ refusal and absenteeism by some students. The following criteria were used to recruit the participants:

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  1. Students had to be aged between 13 and 18 years
  2. Participants had to be high school students in New York State

Ethnic diversity was reflected in the participating population with 80.3% of the participants being white while 5.1% were African American. 7.3% of the sample size were Hispanic, 3.5 were Asian while the rest were other minority groups.

Steps for data collection and protection of human subjects and steps for the analysis of the data

Data was collected using the Suicidal Ideation Questionnaire (SIQ-JR) which seeks to assess the frequency of specific suicidal thoughts. The SIQ-JR invokes a Likert-type scale labeled 0 to 6 where zero (0) denotes, ‘never had suicidal thoughts’ while 6 represents ‘have had the thoughts too often’.

The Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC-IV) was used to assess the suicidal history attempts from the participants. The population was asked to respond to seven questions that sought to assess the lifetime attempts and the interventions sought by the victim.

Children below the age of 18 years are considered minors who cannot make competent decisions by themselves. In that regard, the parent’s consent was obtained through a telephone conversation. Participants were assured of the confidentiality of the information given before participating in the study. The law requires the approval of all research involving human subjects by the relevant review bodies. In compliances with the said provision, the institutional review board of the New York State Psychiatric Institute approved the research. To mitigate the risks inherent in the research, participants who exhibited signs of serious suicide attempts were reported to the parents and the project clinician.

Issues of trustworthiness within a qualitative framework

To comply with the trustworthiness requirements, the participants were informed of all the material facts about the research before their participation. They were assured of the confidentiality of the information given in the course of the study. Moreover, the participants were advised that parents would be notified in cases where suicidal attempts were serious.

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Copeland, William, Dieter Wolke, Adrian Angold, and Jane Costello. “Adult Psychiatric outcomes of bullying and being bullied by peers in childhood and Adolescence.” JAMA Psychiatry 70.4(2013): 419-426.

A specific qualitative design

Just like in the other article reviewed, the researchers in this study used the historical qualitative design. They assessed the children’s past bullying experiences and connected the same with the participants’ current suicidal thoughts.

The population and sample

The study recruited 1420 participants aged between 9 and 16 years from North Carolina and subjected to continuous screening throughout childhood to adulthood. The population was divided into three groups namely, the bullies only, the victims only, and the bullies and victims (Copeland et al. 422). To qualify for inclusion in the study, one had to be:

  1. 9 to 16 years old
  2. A bullying victim or a bully

Steps for data collection and protection of human subjects and steps for the analysis of the data

Interviews were used to collect data from the participants and their parents. The participants were asked to describe their suicidal thoughts following the bullying experiences. For safety assurance, the Duke University Medical Center institutional review board approved the research. Participants’ data was kept secret and was never accessible to unauthorized individuals.

The childhood assessment involved asking children and the caregivers to give information regarding the child’s involvement in bullying events in the past three months immediately following the assessment. Only the reported bullying incidences were considered in this study while the unreported cases were ignored.

Adulthood psychiatric problems were also assessed through interviews with the Young Adult Psychiatric Assessment (YAPA). The interviews also assessed suicidal thoughts among the participants over a period of 3 months before the interviews. The results revealed that only a small number of the childhood bullying victim had experienced suicidal thoughts within the period in question. However, a large number of the participants tested positive of the psychiatric disorders.

Issues of trustworthiness within a qualitative framework

All the participants were apprised of their rights during and after the study and were advised of their right to abandon the study before its completion. Additionally, the participants were assured of the confidentiality of the information given.

Based on your analysis above, what seems most applicable to your hypothetical study and why?

Research design

The design for this paper shall borrow from the two research papers whereby I shall develop a research question based on a review of the literature. A review of the past bullying experiences shall inform current suicidal thoughts by the participants.

Population and sample

My research shall seek to establish the relationship between childhood bullying and suicide attempts later in adulthood. It shall use the qualitative method to study the said connection. The sample population shall be comprised of children below the age of 18 years. The two articles reviewed in this paper bases their research on children below the mentioned age.

Data collection

The research shall invoke interviews to collect the relevant data on the issue in question. This method is similar to the one used by Copeland et al. in the described research (420). Interviews shall be conducted to both the parents and the children to gain insight on the issue.

Trustworthiness

The relevant authorized review bodies must approve all researches involving human subjects (Amitai and Apter 990). My research shall be approved accordingly before its commencement. Participants shall be assured of the confidentiality of the information given, and they will be educated on the purpose of the study.

Discussion of the inherent strengths and challenges of your hypothetical study to include any ethical considerations that might need to be addressed in the study.

Informed consent

The medical code of ethics requires researchers to obtain informed consent from the participants before engaging them in the study (Espelage and Holt 29). Children might not be capable of entering binding contracts hence their consent might not count. Parents might be reluctant to give such consent, especially where the bullying occurs at home.

Confidentiality

The law requires that the information obtained from the human subjects in the course of conducting research to be confidential. However, this provision may be compromised by a court order requiring disclosure of such data (Bauman, Toomey, and Walker 345). The confidentiality of the data may also be compromised in case of serious suicidal feelings from a participant. In the mentioned case, the parent and the clinician must be apprised of such attempts.

References

Amitai, Maya, and Alan Apter. “Social aspects of suicidal behavior and prevention in early life: a review.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 9.3 (2012): 985-994. Print.

Bauman, Sheri, Russell Toomey, and Jenny Walker. “Associations among bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide in high school students.” Journal of Adolescence 36.2 (2013): 341-350. Print.

Borowsky, Iris, Lindsay Taliaferro, and Barbara McMorris. “Suicidal thinking and behavior among youth involved in verbal and social bullying: risk and protective factors.” Journal of Adolescent Health 53.1 (2013): 4-12. Print.

Copeland, William, Dieter Wolke, Adrian Angold, and Jane Costello. “Adult psychiatric outcomes of bullying and being bullied by peers in childhood and adolescence.” JAMA Psychiatry 70.4(2013): 419-426. Print.

Espelage, Dorothy, and Melissa Holt. “Suicidal ideation and school bullying experiences after controlling for depression and delinquency.” Journal of Adolescent Health 53.1 (2013): 27-31. Print.

Klomek, Anat, Marjorie Kleinman, Elizabeth Altschuler, Frank Marrocco, Lia Amakawa, and Madelyn Gould. “Suicidal adolescents’ experiences with bullying perpetration and victimization during high school as risk factors for later depression and suicidality.” Journal of Adolescent Health 53.1 (2013): 37-42. Print.

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