Comportements suicidaires chez les adolescents et les adultes: comprendre le rôle de l'intimidation à l'école pour mieux intervenir

 

Marie-Claude Geoffroy

Centre de recherche de l'Hôpital Douglas

 

Domaine : Neurosciences, santé mentale et toxicomanies

Programme chercheurs-boursiers - Junior 1

Concours 2016-2017

Suicide is an enormous public health problem. However suicides are preventable with evidence-based interventions.  Adolescence is a crucial period in regards to suicide prevention and laying the foundation for good mental health. Both suicidal ideation and suicide attempt that underline suicide mortality start during this period of life. Victimization by peers is a serious problem.

Approximately 20% of adolescents in Quebec report being exposed to such aggressive behavior.  This means that in a class of 30 students, about 6 students are frequently bullied by other students.  Peer victimization is not a necessary rite of passage of adolescence but a form of adversity which may hold long-term negative consequences. Studies suggest that peer victimization can represent a major risk factor for suicide. However, there is considerable variability in the trajectories of teens who are victimized by their peers. Indeed, although peer victimization may represent a risk for suicidality, the majority of victims do not develop problems as serious as those aforementioned. 

The stress-diathesis model suggests that a person with genetic vulnerability can become suicidal when exposed to a major stress, such as peer victimization.  Knowledge gained from my research program will allow for better understanding of the role that peer victimization plays in the development of suicidal behavior in adolescence and adulthood.

This will consequently allow for better identification of individuals that are more likely to become suicidal or engage in suicidal behaviors, after having been subject to peer victimization. Such knowledge is crucial to improving our understanding of the nature of this disturbing problem and to inform policy makers and clinicians on high-risk profiles and make informed decisions in terms of prevention.