Yi Jin Kim

Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Seek Sung Moon


Purpose: A significantly high rate (18.3%) of Korean adolescents had suicidal ideations in 2012 (Korea Ministry of Health and Welfare, 2012) and suicidal ideation is more prevalent among adolescents than any other age group in Korea. Suicidal ideation is one of the most significant factors in predicting an increased risk for future suicide attempts. Considering the fact that suicidal ideation is the onset of the suicidal process triggering more serious suicidal behaviors including suicide intent, attempt, and completion, it is critical to examine the risk factors for suicidal ideation to prevent more risky suicidal behaviors among Korean adolescents. There have been a number of suicide studies conducted in Korea. However, the majority of studies did not use a theoretical framework. Even though some researchers built up the studies based on a theoretical background, the majority of theories were not comprehensive enough to explain the complex phenomenon of suicidality. The lack of an integrated theory results in less strong or less reliable outcomes, and may lead to ineffective interventions. Since suicide is a complex phenomenon, usually caused by the interaction of many risk factors rather than by a single, isolated factor, an integrative perspective is required to explain the diverse array of factors associated with suicidal behavior. Given the gaps in the previous research, the current study was conducted to attain a better understanding of the contributing factors to suicidal ideation among Korean adolescents by testing a modified interpersonal theory of suicide for improved accuracy in the prediction of diverse risk factors for suicidal ideation.Methods: The primary data collection method was written surveys. The study recruited 850 high school students in grades 10th and 11th in Pyeongtaek, Korea. Of these students, participants included 569 students (44.8% male and 55.2% female), who had received parental consent and who themselves agreed to participate. The Beck Scale for Suicidal Ideation was used to measure suicidal ideation as the outcome variable in this study. The Interpersonal Needs Questionnaire, the Beck Hopelessness Scale, the School Related Stress Scale, the Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire, and the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance questions were used to measure thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness, hopelessness, school related stress, bullying, and previous suicidal behaviors, respectively. The data were gathered data from November, 2013 to February, 2014. Data analyses included descriptive statistics and Structural Equation Modeling.Results: The findings suggest that perceived burdensomeness, hopelessness, school related stress, and previous suicidal behaviors have significant direct effects on suicidal ideation. Hopelessness fully mediated the relation between thwarted belongingness and suicidal ideation, and partially mediated between perceived burdensomeness, school related stress and suicidal ideation. Implications: The findings of this study offer a detailed picture of some risk factors contributing to increased suicidal ideation among Korean adolescents. These findings suggest knowledge that may be used by practitioners working with the adolescents who are at risk for suicide or have the potential to commit suicide in order to be successful in reducing suicide rates among Korean adolescents. This study also suggests modification of the Suicide Prevention Law enacted in April 2012 in Korea to provide more specific directions for a multi-dimensional suicide prevention program based on the findings of the current study.


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

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