Stress and suicide risk among adolescents: the role of problematic internet use, gaming disorder and emotional regulation

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BACKGROUND: Previous studies have associated videogame playing and social media use with suicidal behaviors together with lower stress coping or poor emotion regulation strategies. Due to the inconclusive evidence regarding the factors associated with suicidal behavior, the present study aimed to overcome the limitations of previous research and explored the relationship between adolescent stress, problematic internet use (PIU), gaming disorder (GD), and emotional regulation (ER) in a cross-section design. It was hypothesized that stress would have a direct effect on suicide risk (SR) as well as being mediated by PIU, GD, and ER.

METHODS: The participants comprised 430 adolescents (58.4% male) aged between 16 and 19 years. They completed an online survey including the Mobile-Related Experiences Questionnaire, Internet Gaming Disorder Scale-Short Form, Meta-Mood Trait Repair Scale, and Spanish version of the Suicidal Behaviors Questionnaire.

RESULTS: A total of 34.2% of the adolescents (N = 147) were at risk for SR. Results also indicated that 30,7% had experienced suicidal ideation at some point in their life, 12.1% had at least one plan to die by suicide, and 5.1% had attempted suicide. Results of path analysis confirmed that stress appeared to be a risk factor for suicide, but that its effects were not mediated by PIU. However, ER and GD mediated the effect of stress on SR. The results suggest that stress is a main risk factor for suicide, especially among adolescents with poor emotional regulation or problematic gaming.

CONCLUSIONS: Considering the prevalence of suicide among adolescents, the results of the present study suggest that suicide prevention programs should include emotional regulation strategies, stress coping, and videogaming management skills in the early stages of high school. Providing these protective resources to adolescents will help them face the stressful and changing situations typical of adolescence and will help them to attain greater well-being and satisfaction with life.

Original languageEnglish
Article number326
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2024


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Behavior, Addictive/epidemiology
  • Emotional Regulation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Internet Use
  • Male
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Suicide, Attempted
  • Young Adult
  • Online social networking
  • Problematic internet use
  • Gaming disorder
  • Stress
  • Emotional regulation
  • Suicide risk


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