Perceived burdensomeness, bullying, and suicidal ideation in suicidal military personnel

J Clin Psychol. 2019 Dec;75(12):2147-2159. doi: 10.1002/jclp.22836. Epub 2019 Jul 23.


Objective: Suicide is a major public health concern among military servicemembers and previous research has demonstrated an association between bullying and suicide. This study evaluated the association between workplace bullying and suicidal ideation via perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness which were hypothesized to mediate this association.

Method: Four hundred and seventy-one suicidal Army Soldiers and U.S. Marines completed self-report measures of suicidal ideation, thwarted belongingness, perceived burdensomeness, and bullying. A series of regressions were used to test the hypothesized mediation model using the baseline data from a larger clinical trial.

Results: Perceived burdensomeness was a significant mediator of the association between bullying and the level of suicidal ideation, but thwarted belongingness was not a significant mediator.

Conclusions: Perceived burdensomeness may represent a malleable target for intervention to prevent suicide among military service members, and should be evaluated further as an intervening variable with regard to suicidality in the setting of bullying victimization.

Keywords: army; bullying; marines; military; perceived burdensomeness; suicide; thwarted belongingness.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bullying / psychology*
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel / psychology*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report
  • Social Integration
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Suicide, Attempted / prevention & control
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace
  • Young Adult