Online Program

Association between perceived unsafe environment, being bullied, and suicidal ideation in a representative sample of Puerto Rican adolescents

Monday, November 2, 2015

Linnette Rodriguez-Figueroa, MS, PhD, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Puerto Rico, Graduate School of Public Health, San Juan, PR, Puerto Rico
Margarita R. Moscoso-Alvarez, PhD, Foundations of Education, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, San Juan, PR
Juan C. Reyes-Pulliza, PhD, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus, Graduate School of Public Health, San Juan, PR
Hector Colón, PhD, Center for Evaluation and Sociomedical Research, University of Puerto Rico, Graduate School of Public Health, San Juan, PR
Suicidal behavior among adolescents has been associated with their social and environmental contextual influences, particularly their school and neighborhood environments.  However, this relationship has seldom been explored among Puerto Rican teens. Our objective was to explore if suicidal ideation was associated with adolescent’s perception of being unsafe in their schools, communities, or homes, and being bullied.  A representative sample of all 7th-12th grade students in PR was selected  using a multi-stage stratified cluster sampling design. Approximately 3,982 students participated in the cross-sectional survey answering a pre-coded self-administered questionnaire.  Proportions were compared using chi-square tests.  Multiple logistic regression models were fitted to estimate the odds ratios and their 95% confidence intervals.  Prevalence of suicidal ideation in the last year was estimated in 8%. Seriously thinking about suicide was highest among females, those age 15, those who reported being bullied, and among those who reported not feeling safe in their schools, communities, homes, or in the places where they spent time with friends.  Among females, bullying (OR=2.82, 95% CI=2.70-2.95) was more strongly associated with suicidal ideation than feeling unsafe in the different environments after adjusting for age, depression, and unsafe environments. However, for males, feeling unsafe in their homes had a higher odds of ideation (OR=2.90, 95% CI=2.63-3.18) than bullying and feeling unsafe in other environments.  This study highlights the influence that environments have is the teen’s mental health and well-being.  Suicide prevention programs should target these external factors in order to be more effective.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the prevalence of suicidal ideation in the past year among Puerto Rican adolescent students Compare the prevalence of suicidal ideation (past year) by gender, age, bullying victimization (past year), depression (last year), and reported perception of feeling unsafe in their environments (homes, communities, schools, or in the parks, basketball courts or other places where they spend time with friends) Evaluate the association between suicidal ideation in the last year and the adolescent’s perception of being unsafe in their homes, communities, or schools, and with being a bullying victim adjusting for possible confounders

Keyword(s): Mental Health, Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was a Co-PI of the study. I performed all the analyses and wrote the abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.