Association between problematic Internet use, sleep disturbance, and suicidal behavior in Chinese adolescents (2018)

J Behav Addict. 2018 Nov 26:1-11. doi: 10.1556/2006.7.2018.115

Guo L1,2, Luo M1,2, Wang WX1,2, Huang GL3, Xu Y3, Gao X3, Lu CY1,2, Zhang WH4,5.



This large-scale study aimed to test (a) associations of problematic Internet use (PIU) and sleep disturbance with suicidal ideation and suicide attempts among Chinese adolescents and (b) whether sleep disturbance mediates the association between PIU and suicidal behavior.


Data were drawn from the 2017 National School-based Chinese Adolescents Health Survey. A total of 20,895 students’ questionnaires were qualified for analysis. The Young’s Internet Addiction Test was used to assess PIU, and level of sleep disturbance was measured by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. Multilevel logistic regression models and path models were utilized in analyses.


Of the total sample, 2,864 (13.7%) reported having suicidal ideation, and 537 (2.6%) reported having suicide attempts. After adjusting for control variables and sleep disturbance, PIU was associated with an increased risk of suicidal ideation (AOR = 1.04, 95% CI = 1.03-1.04) and suicide attempts (AOR = 1.03, 95% CI = 1.02-1.04). Findings of the path models showed that the standardized indirect effects of PIU on suicidal ideation (standardized β estimate = 0.092, 95% CI = 0.082-0.102) and on suicide attempts (standardized β estimate = 0.082, 95% CI = 0.068-0.096) through sleep disturbance were significant. Conversely, sleep disturbance significantly mediated the association of suicidal behavior on PIU.


There may be a complex transactional association between PIU, sleep disturbance, and suicidal behavior. The estimates of the mediator role of sleep disturbance provide evidence for the current understanding of the mechanism of the association between PIU and suicidal behavior. Possible concomitant treatment services for PIU, sleep disturbance, and suicidal behavior were recommended.

KEYWORDS: adolescents; mediation effects; problematic Internet use; sleep disturbance; suicidal behavior

PMID: 30474380

DOI: 10.1556/2006.7.2018.115