The Mediating Effect of Loneliness on the Relationship between Bullying Victimization and Suicidal Behavior among Adolescents in Ghana

The Mediating Effect of Loneliness on the Relationship between Bullying Victimization and Suicidal Behavior among Adolescents in Ghana

2.2. Variables

Suicidal behavior is the dependent variable in this study and was measured using two items: During the past 12 months, did you ever seriously consider attempting suicide? During the past 12 months, did you make a plan about how you might attempt suicide? The responses were 1 (Yes) and 0 (No). A suicidal behavior index was created, ranging from 0 to 2, with a Cronbach’s alpha coefficient of 0.63, which is an acceptable level.

The independent variable in this research is bullying victimization. It was measured by the question, “During the past 30 days, how several days have you been bullied?” The responses were categorized as follows: 1 (0 days), 2 (1 or 2 days), 3 (3 to 5 days), 4 (6 to 9 days), 5 (10 to 19 days), 6 (20 to 29 days), and 7 (all 30 days). Subsequently, the responses were recoded into a dummy variable, with “0 days” designated as 0 (never bullied) and “1 to 30 days” as 1 (always bullied).

Loneliness is the moderator variable used in this investigation. It was measured using the question, “How several times have you felt lonely in the past 12 months?” The responses ranged from 0 (never), 1 (rarely), 2 (sometimes), 3 (most of the time), and 4 (always).

Certain variables have been shown to be risk factors for suicidal behavior. For instance, studies have found that gender significantly predicts suicidal behavior, with females having an increased likelihood of engaging in suicidal attempts and ideation [66,67]. Age has also been strongly linked to suicidal attempts and plans [52,68]. School grade level has been found to be a significant predictor of suicidal behavior [69]. Scholars have also documented that sleeplessness is a risk factor for suicidal thoughts and plans [70,71]. Substance use has been shown to significantly predict suicidal ideation [72,73]. Finally, social support has been found to reduce suicidal behaviors among adolescents [74,75,76].

Therefore, variables such as gender, age, school grade, sleeplessness, substance use, and social support were included in the study as control variables. Age was treated as a continuous variable, ranging from 11 to 18 years, and school grade level was categorized as JHS 1–3 and SHS 1–3. Sleeplessness was measured as follows: 0 (never), 1 (rarely), 2 (sometimes), 3 (most of the time), and 4 (always). Substance use (alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana) was also treated as a continuous variable, whereas gender was treated as a categorical variable (male, female). Substance use was measured with the item, “How several days have you smoked tobacco, marijuana, or drank alcohol in the past 30 days?” The responses ranged from 0 to 30 days.

Three items were used to measure social support: parental support, peer support, and school support. Parental support was determined using the following items: “During the past 30 days, how often did your parents or guardians check to see if your homework was done? During the past 30 days, how often did your parents or guardians understand your problems and worries?”

During the past 30 days, how often did your parents or guardians really know what you were doing with your free time? The responses included 0 (never), 1 (rarely), 2 (sometimes), 3 (most of the time), and 4 (always). A parental support scale was developed that ranged from 3 to 15, with a Cronbach’s alpha reliability coefficient of 0.7. Peer support was defined using the item, “How several close friends do you have?” The responses were 0, 1, 2, and 3 or more. School support was specified with the item: “During the past 30 days, how often were most of the students in your school kind and helpful?” The responses were 0 (never), 1 (rarely), 2 (sometimes), 3 (most of the time), and 4 (always).

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