Systematic review of risk and protective factors for suicidal and self-harm behaviors among children and adolescents involved with cyberbullying

Elsevier, Preventive Medicine, Volume 152, Part 1, November 2021, 106684


Cyberbullying is associated with increased risk of suicidal and self-harm behaviors in children and adolescents. However, no review to date has explored factors that exacerbate and mitigate this relationship. This systematic review concerns research on factors that influence the impact of cyberbullying on suicidal and self-harm behaviors. Four bibliographic databases were explored and references in included articles were searched. We identified 727 articles and retained 66 that met inclusion criteria. Research has identified multiple risk factors which have been associated with increased suicide risk in general (mental health problems, substance abuse, loneliness, stress, sexual orientation/gender identity issues and violent behaviors). Others risk factors more specific to cyberbullying were: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Intellectual and Developmental Disorders, obesity, having asthma and severity of cyberbullying. Fewer studies concern protective factors. School connectedness, restrictive style of parenting, parental support, life satisfaction, having a healthy diet, personal skills and having family dinners were associated with less risk of suicidal and self-harm behaviors following cyberbullying. These protective factors suggest prevention strategies to reduce the impacts of cyberbullying by teaching better personal skills, promoting school social connections and proposing family interventions. More research is needed including exploration of the differential impacts of different forms of cyberbullying, and evaluations of the impacts of programs to increase personal skills, improve family relationships and foster school connectedness to reducing suicidal and self-harm behaviors in this vulnerable population.