Perceived Burdensomeness Mediates the Association Between Workplace Bullying and Suicidal Ideation


Almost half (44%) of suicidal Service Members reported bullying in their workplace – the majority of whom (80%) reported workplace bullying in the past six months.

A study of active duty suicidal Marines and Soldiers (N=470) found that just over half had experienced bullying in childhood (57%) and just under half in the workplace (44%). Of those bullied recently, bullying was reported evenly split between rarely, occasionally, and frequently.

Common reasons reported for bullying were:

  • Because I was different (55%)
  • Because of physical weakness or inability to keep up (52%)
  • Because of my appearance or weight (49%)
  • Because I didn’t get along well with others (48%)
  • Because of my race, ethnicity, or country of origin (21%)
  • They said I was gay (16%)

This study found that there was no direct association between workplace bullying in the past 6 months and current suicidal ideation. However, more reasons reported for workforce bullying were found to be indirectly associated with suicidal ideation via perceived burdensomeness. In other words, more reasons reported for bullying increased Service Member’s perception that they were a burden on others which in turn increased suicidal ideation.


Crowell‐Williamson, G. A., Fruhbauerova, M., DeCou, C. R. & Comtois, K. A. Perceived burdensomeness, bullying, and suicidal ideation in suicidal military personnel. J. Clin. Psychol. 75, 2147–2159 (2019) doi: 10.1002/jclp.22836

This Blog is supported by the Military Suicide Research Consortium (MSRC), funded by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs under Award No. (W81XWH-16-2-0003 & W81XWH-16-2-0004). Opinions, interpretations, conclusions and recommendations are those of the Military Suicide Research Consortium and are not necessarily endorsed by the Department of Defense.


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