Research shows a strong connection between being bullied and suicide:
- According to statistics reported by ABC News, nearly 30% of students are either bullies or victims of bullying.
- About 160,000 kids stay home from school every day due to fear of bullying.
- Over 25% of teens and adolescents have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet.
- Studies show that bullies and bully-victims have a high risk for cigarette, alcohol, and cannabis use.
- Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University.
- A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying, and 10-14-year-old girls are at highest risk.
- According to the CDC, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14% of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7% have attempted it.
It’s important to know that bully-related suicide can be connected to any type of bullying: physical bullying, emotional bullying, cyberbullying, and sexting, and circulating suggestive or nude photos or rumors about a person. And when 7% of all high school students attempt suicide to escape bullying, it’s not “just part of being a kid.”
Over 50% of young people do not tell their parents when bullying occurs. So, how can we help?
- Take all talk or threats of suicide seriously. Don’t tell the person they are wrong or that they have a lot to live for. Instead, get them immediate medical help.
- Keep weapons and medications away from anyone who is at risk for suicide. Get these items out of the house or at least securely locked up.
- Parents and caregivers should encourage teens to talk about bullying that takes place. Most kids are embarrassed and don’t want to admit it. Tell victims that it’s not their fault that they are being bullied and show them love and support. Get them professional help if the bullying is serious.
- Insist on being included in the child or teen’s social networking sites so you can see if someone has posted mean messages about them online. Text messages may be more difficult to know about, so parents should try to keep open communications with their children about bullying.
- Parents or caregivers who see a serious bullying problem should talk to school authorities about it, and perhaps arrange a meeting with the bully’s parents. More states are implementing laws against bullying, and recent lawsuits against schools and criminal charges against bullies show that there are legal avenues to take to deal with bullies. If school authorities don’t help with an ongoing bullying problem, contact local police or attorneys.
Los Angeles Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse provides counseling for teens and their families at risk due to bullying and suicide attempts. Call (562) 906-2676 for information.