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  • Writer's pictureClara Wajngurt

Center for Disease Control Report on the Relationship Between Bullying in Children and Suicide

Lately we are hearing so many stories of children in grades K-12 who have been bullied and who unfortunately have committed suicide thereafter,-these are such tragic stories. Clearly such stories affect the family, the community and the school. Mostly these stories affect our society-- and we need to do something about it.

We know that bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior that deals with a perceived or real power imbalance. When bullying behavior is repeated it has serious lasting effects on mental conditions, possibly on physical conditions and on the future of everyone affected. Even children who have observed such behavior but did not participate directly in this bullying interaction, are left feeling helpless not knowing what to do, and are afraid to stand up to the bully for fear of being ostracized by 'the crowd.'

Suicide-related behavior is very complicated and can result in death, when it is the result of some very destructive behavior aimed at the  person who is being bullied-- or can be non-fatal, self-directed destructive behavior, with an intent to die--or it can mean suicidal ideation where a child thinks about suicide or plans for suicide, People who engage in suicide-related behavior often feel overwhelming feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

What we know is that bullying behavior and suicide-related behavior are closely related in the sense that any youth who reports any participation with bullying behavior are more likely to report high levels of suicide-related behavior than youth who are not involved with bullying behaviors (CDC, 2014). What we don't know for sure is if there is a causal relationship between bullying behavior and engagement in suicide-related behavior.

Some articles suggest (Espelage &Holt, 2013) that perhaps bullying alone may not yield to suicidal behaviors, but the combination of risk factors like delinquency and depression may contribute to a more elevated risk of suicide-related behaviors.

It is important for public health experts and our society as a whole to focus on the  possible relationship between youth bullying and suicide because this:

  1. Raises societal awareness about what bullying can do to people affected by this phenomenon.

  2. Highlights the risk for youth who are vulnerable---youth with learning disabilities, LGBTQ youth and other social classes.

  3. Encourages conversation about the problem of bullying and suicide and promotes collaboration on finding solutions to this important topic of bullying prevention in our schools both locally,nationally and internationally.

What can parents and schools do?

  • Help students feel connected by involving them in activities.

  • Teach youth coping skills---focus on the positive and empower them.

  • Provide training for school staff to recognize bullying issues.

  • Provide support and referrals for children who need this.

  • As a parent do not fall into the trap my child cannot be exhibiting such behaviors.

  • Do not blame, shame or criminalize get rid of roadblocks so that youth feel better about themselves.

Bullying and suicide-related behaviors are serious public health problems. Work on saving lives by confronting and dealing with the issues directly so that future bullying and suicidal behaviors can be avoided.


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