This study investigated the influence of childhood adversity, such as peer bullying and socioeconomic status, on the suicidal behaviour of left-behind Chinese adolescents to determine whether psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) mediated the associations between these childhood adversities and suicidality; suicidal ideation (serious thoughts about taking one’s own life), suicide plans, and suicide attempts.
A representative group of rural adolescents (n = 3346) was recruited from 16 rural high schools in China. Suicidality was assessed using the suicide module from the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview Kid. Participants also completed questionnaires on bullying, socioeconomic status, left-behind characteristics, and PLEs. Structural equation modelling was then employed to explore the relationships between these variables.
Peer bullying, poverty, and left-behind status were all found to significantly increase adolescent suicide risk, the relationships between which were mediated by PLEs. Peer bullying was found to play the most significant role in the PLEs and suicidality, with the risk of suicide increasing with the length of time a child had been left behind.
Adverse life events can lead to a high risk of PLEs, which in turn can increase the risk of suicide. These results could assist in identifying individuals at risk of suicidality and the design of appropriate interventions. The results also highlighted the role PLEs play in suicidality and highlighted the need for further research in this area.