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Background and aims

Mobile phone addiction (MPA) is emerging among adolescents, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, there is a dearth of knowledge regarding the correlation between MPA and suicide behaviors and its mechanism. The objective of the current study is exploring the direct effect of MPA on suicide behaviors and the indirect effect through poor sleep quality.


A total of 18,900 Chinese adolescents aged 12 to 18 were recruited via a multi-stage cluster sampling method.


The prevalence of MPA and poor sleep quality was 26.2 and 23.1%, respectively. During the past year, 24.4% participants were involved in suicide behaviors. Specifically, suicide ideators, suicide planners, and suicide attempters were 10.7, 8.4, and 5.3%, respectively. Particularly, rural females had the highest prevalence of suicide behaviors, MPA, and poor sleep quality. Logistic regression analysis showed that MPA was significantly associated with suicide ideators (OR = 1.22, 95% CI: 1.09–1.37, p < 0.001) and planners (OR = 1.18, 95% CI: 1.04–1.34, p < 0.05), but not for suicide attempters (p > 0.05). Structural equation modelling demonstrated that MPA had direct effect on suicide behaviors (β = 0.145, 95% CI = 0.127–0.160), and poor sleep quality partially mediated the relationship (the mediating ratio was 46.7%). The mediating ratio of poor sleep quality was the highest in urban males.


MPA has both direct and indirect effects on suicide behaviors. For suicide prevention, limited mobile phone use and improvement sleep quality may be practical for adolescents. Additionally, more efforts of intervention could give priority to rural girls.

Open access