With the invention of the internet, the schoolyard bully is now able to continue their harassment in other forums, often with fatal consequences. In this article, we’ll look at the connection between bullying and suicide and suggest how parents and teachers can help our teens.
The Devastating Effects of Bullying
- Jamel Myles – Jamel was 9 years old in August 2018, when his mother found him dead in his bedroom. Earlier that day she had picked him up from school, gone to Starbucks, and then out for dinner. Leia Pearce had sent her three children to tidy their rooms and found Jamel soon after.
Jamel and his sister had been bullied for well over a year before Jamel made the decision to hang himself at nine years of age.
- Katelyn Nicole Davis – Katelyn was 12 years old when she hung herself in her backyard, in December 2016. Her suicide was live-streamed on Live.me and then shared around Facebook.
Katelyn had been bullied by students at her school, online, and by her stepfather.
- Rosalie Avila – Rosalie was 13 years old in late 2017, when she hung herself, after writing letters of apology to her parents. She was kept on life support for a few days so that her organs could be donated.
Rosalie had been bullied at school and online for months before her suicide.
The above list is just three of our young people who have committed suicide in recent years. There are many more that haven’t been mentioned here. Many of the incidents of cyberbullying and suicide can easily be proved, as it’s all on the internet for everyone to view.
Bullying and Suicide Statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC), a third of deaths among young people in the U.S. are by suicide; that’s a total of 4,400 every year.
For every suicide committed by those young people, there are another 100 attempts.
Over 7% of high school students have attempted suicide and over 14% have considered it.
Children and young people who have been bullied are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide.
In Britain, approximately half of the number of suicides among young people are because of children being bullied.
According to ABC news reports, nearly 30 % of children in the U.S, are either displaying bullying behavior or are victims of it.
160,000 children stay home from school, every day, due to bullying.
Without intervention, these figures will continue to rise.
Preventing Teen Suicide Caused by Bullying
Bullying is known to have serious effects on the mental health of our young people. That includes the victims, people who witness the bullying, and the bullies.
Depression, anxiety, substance abuse, poor school performance, and suicide are just some of those lasting negative effects.
The highest risk group for teenage suicide are those children who have been both a bullying victim and a bully.
Bullying directly attacks a person’s self-esteem, confidence, and sense of inclusion which often leads to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
If you’ve also been a bully, the sense of guilt and shame can often lead to suicide, suicide attempts, and risky behavior.
What Steps Can Parents and Teachers Take Toward Suicide Prevention?
If you suspect your child or student is experiencing suicidal thoughts, self-harming, or is showing signs of depression, seek professional advice.
Most people would rather report something they suspect and be wrong, rather than not reporting something they suspect and then have to cope with a suicide.
If you are experiencing suicidal ideation, suicidal thoughts, or are being bullied, get help. Tell your parents, a teacher, anyone you can so that they can get you the right help.
Report any and all incidents of bullying that you witness. Suicides related to bullying will stop occurring if bullying no longer happens.
If you see a child or young person being bullied, however mild you may deem that bullying to be, report it.
The bullying you witness may only be the tip of the iceberg, but if enough people report these incidents, the school or the community will have to take the accusations seriously. And the child will learn that reporting it is the appropriate response.
Talk to Your Children
Ask your children questions about how they’re doing and check in with them regularly. If you suspect your child or student is being bullied, or is a bully, ensure that they know they can talk about it with you.
Role-model non-bullying behavior and teach your children coping skills. Celebrate individuality in the home and classroom.
Monitor Online Behavior
Monitor your children’s online behavior as much as possible. We all know how difficult it can be to separate a teenager from their devices. But as parents and teachers, you need to know what’s appearing on their social media feeds.
Many young people, and adults, will say things to people online that they wouldn’t to someone’s face. This is why cyberbullying is so dangerous. Its anonymity allows some people to think that their behavior will go undetected.
Help for Bullying and Suicide Victims and their Families
If you or a loved one is in immediate danger of attempting suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
If you are being bullied, or suspect that someone you know is being bullied, please contact your school or – in severe or physically threatening circumstances- your local police.
At Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital, we have mental health outpatient and inpatient programs designed specifically for adolescents.
Contact us today if you, or your loved one, is experiencing suicidal thoughts. Our admissions and intake specialists are available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.