The impact of delinquent friendship networks and neighborhood context on suicidal ideation among South Korean youths

Harris Hyun Soo Kim, Paul Y. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We examine the association between ties to delinquent friends and suicidal ideation among adolescents, and whether this association varies across neighborhoods. We analyze two waves of data from the Korean Youth Panel Survey, which comprise nationally representative samples of high school students in South Korea, a country with the highest suicide rate in the developed world. Results from hierarchical linear models show that, net of individual and contextuallevel predictors, connections to delinquent peers significantly raise the odds of adolescent suicidality. We also find this relationship to be stronger in more affluent and better-quality neighborhoods. We draw on the concept of the "black sheep effect" to discuss the implications of these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-376
Number of pages30
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We analyze data from the Korean Youth Panel Survey (KYPS), a longitudinal study funded by the Korean government and conducted by a state-run research center, the National Youth Policy Institute ( Two cohorts were initially selected to be included in the KYPS. Cohort 1 consists of eighth graders (N = 3,449) first surveyed in 2003, and Cohort 2 comprises fourth graders (N = 2,844) sampled in 2004. Our study is based on the first (older) cohort. Stratified multi-stage cluster sampling was used to produce nationally representative samples of Korean students, with neighborhood clusters constituting the primary sampling unit. The questionnaire has two parts: one for students and another for parents/guardians. The student survey was administered in class by an interviewer, while the parent/guardian survey was conducted over the telephone.

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2016S1A3A2925085). We are grateful to Takuma Kamada, Leslie Paik, Chan S. Suh, and anonymous reviewers for helpful comments. Direct correspondence to Harris Hyun-soo Kim, Department of Sociology, Ewha Womans University, 52 Ewhayeodae-gil, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, 120-750, Republic of Korea; e-mail:

Funding Information:
Harris H. Kim is Professor of Sociology at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, Korea. His research interests are mainly focused on social networks as they relate to health inequality, labor market consequences, and political participation. He recently completed a three-year study funded by the National Research Foundation of Korea, in which he collected longitudinal data on global peer networks and mental health among school-aged children in Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. All rights reserved.


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