Higher childhood peer reports of social preference mediates the impact of the good behavior game on suicide attempt

Alison R. Newcomer, Kimberly B. Roth, Sheppard G. Kellam, Wei Wang, Nicholas S. Ialongo, Shelley R. Hart, Barry M. Wagner, Holly C. Wilcox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The Good Behavior Game (GBG) is a universal classroom-based preventive intervention directed at reducing early aggressive, disruptive behavior and improving children’s social adaptation into the classroom. The GBG is one of the few universal preventive interventions delivered in early elementary school that has been shown to reduce the risk for future suicide attempts. This paper addresses one potential mechanism by which the GBG lowers the risk of later suicide attempt. In this study, we tested whether the GBG, by facilitating social adaptation into the classroom early on, including the level of social preference by classmates, thereby lowers future risk of suicide attempts. The measure of social adaptation is based on first and second grade peer reports of social preference (“which children do you like best?”; “which children don’t you like?”). As part of the hypothesized meditational model, we examined the longitudinal association between childhood peer social preference and the risk of future suicide attempt, which has not previously been examined. Data were from an epidemiologically based randomized prevention trial, which tested the GBG among two consecutive cohorts of first grade children in 19 public schools and 41 classrooms. Results indicated that peer social preference partially mediated the relationship between the GBG and the associated reduction of risk for later suicide attempts by adulthood, specifically among children characterized by their first grade teacher as highly aggressive, disruptive. These results suggest that positive childhood peer relations may partially explain the GBG-associated reduction of risk for suicide attempts and may be an important and malleable protective factor for future suicide attempt.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-156
Number of pages12
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2016


  • Developmental epidemiology
  • Good behavior game
  • Peer relations
  • Suicide attempt
  • Universal prevention programs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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