Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Katherine Kidwell

Second Advisor

Kevin Antshel


Adolescents;Body Mass Index;Perceived Closeness;Suicide

Subject Categories

Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Research on Body Mass Index (BMI) as a predictor of adolescent suicidality has been mixed, and though some extant findings point to an association between elevated BMI and suicide, it remains unclear how suicidality differs between categorical weight groups (i.e., healthy weight, overweight, obese weight determined by BMI percentile). Adolescents with elevated BMI face disproportionate risk for social rejection and bullying, both of which predict suicidality. Thus, more information is needed regarding between-group differences in suicide-related outcomes by weight status and potential social factors that may be protective across weight groups. The present study leveraged a nationally-representative dataset to examine differences in binary suicide-related outcomes (i.e., did or did not (1) consider, (2) plan, or (3) attempt suicide in the past year) by weight group and by perceived closeness to others at school (i.e., did or did not feel close). Pearson’s Chi Square analyses and subsequent odds-ratios revealed significantly higher endorsement of suicide consideration and attempts among adolescents in the overweight and obese weight groups relative to the healthy weight group. The overweight (but not obese weight) group had significantly higher suicide planning relative to the healthy weight group. Adolescents who felt close to others had significantly lower rates of endorsement across all outcomes than those who did not feel close, regardless of weight status. These findings suggest that perceived closeness may be a targetable protective factor for interventions seeking to mitigate adolescent suicide risk across weight groups by bolstering social connection.


Open Access

Available for download on Saturday, June 21, 2025

Included in

Psychology Commons