Methods: The data analyzed was from three sources: the 2013 Korean National Survey of the Present Status of Children (n = 1,915; 50.41% girls; mean age = 13.04 years), government census data from the Korea Statistical Information System, and administrative data from the Korea Ministry of Health and Welfare. Participants’ suicidal ideation was assessed by asking “During the past 12 months, have you ever seriously contemplated committing suicide?” Response options to this question were binary: no (0), yes (1). Measures of neighborhood structural characteristic variables were constructed using official Korean government census data from KOSIS and administrative (neighborhood) data from the KMHW. These data were linked to the 2013 KNSPSC data by geocoding techniques. Neighborhood-concentrated poverty was captured by a composite score comprised of the number of residents receiving public assistance (per 1000 residents), the proportion of residents unemployed, and the proportion of female-headed. All indicators were z-score standardized and summed to yield a concentrated poverty score. The divorce rate was measured by the number of divorces in each administrative unit (per 1000 residents). The residential instability variable was operationalized as the percentage of people who had moved into or out of each district unit during the previous year. The collective efficacy variable was measured using the scale developed by Sampson et al. (1997), which comprises five items that represent social cohesion and informal social control in the residential neighborhood area. In order to obtain more precise estimates of the effects of neighborhood-level characteristics on adolescent suicidal ideation, an array of individual-level covariates associated with adolescent suicidal ideation were controlled in this study. Four covariates were selected based on findings of previous studies: demographics (gender and age), personal (depression/anxiety, smoking, and alcohol drinking), family-related (family economic status, supportive parenting, and child maltreatment), and school-related (peer bullying). The Hierarchical Generalized Linear Model was used to investigate the effects of neighborhood structural characteristics and collective efficacy on adolescent suicidal ideation.
Results: There were no significant associations between neighborhood characteristics such as concentrated poverty, divorce rate, and residential instability; however, adolescents’ perceptions of collective efficacy in neighborhoods was associated with lower suicidal ideation after accounting for individual adolescent differences.
Conclusions and Implications: The findings provide significant implications for the prevention of suicide in adolescents and suggest that enhancing the collective efficacy of neighborhoods through community-based intervention may be an important target of future suicide prevention strategies in South Korea.