According to JAMA Pediatrics, children and teens who are victims of bullying are more inclined to ponder suicide and attempt suicide, as opposed to children who are not bullied. Recent studies indicate that suicidal thoughts and attempts of suicide are highly linked to bullied children. This increasingly dangerous trend of higher rates of suicide among bullied children has gained much national attention. Suicide is one of the leading causes of adolescent mortality.
The approximate estimation of children and teens having any involvement in bullying, either as the assailant or the victim, or both, is 15 to 20 percent. Even though bullying and suicide are largely interlinked, bullying by itself does not solely motivate suicide. There are other determined factors that can lead up to having suicidal thoughts and attempting suicide.
A Netherlands-based research team has accumulated studies that detail in-depth examinations of bullying and suicide. The data rendered some disturbing statistics, children and teens who were victims of bullying are 2.23 times more likely to consider committing suicide and 2.55 times more likely to attempt suicide. The Dutch data was reexamined based on gender and age and it was conclusively the same. Based on a 2012 report provided by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 100 to 200 times more suicide attempts than the culmination of suicide.
Back in September, in central Florida, 12 year-old Rebecca Sedwick ascended to the top of a cement plant tower and jumped to her death. County prosecutors brought forth felony charges against two girls, ages 14 and 12, who have sent thousands of Facebook messages in a span of a year prior to Rebecca’s tragic death. The messages were disparaging comments about her appearance and some messages encouraged her to take her own life. One of the girls was so dismissive about Rebecca’s suicide that she posted it on Facebook about how she did not care that she bullied her to death. The district office withdrew the charges after an examination of the messages because it lacked evidence that it was the cause of Rebecca’s suicide. Bullied children and teens are even more linked with high suicide rates when it involves the Internet.
Before the World Wide Web, bullying among children and teenagers took place on the schoolyard during school hours, now with cyberbullying, it can happen 24 hours a day and harder to circumvent due to the vast, unregulated territory of the Internet. Cyberbullying involves email, text messages and videos that can produce more damaging effects because it can occur repetitively in front of a mass audience, as opposed to physical bullying. Bullying that happens on the Internet stays on the Internet and victims are more vulnerable to reliving cyber attacks by bullies because of perpetual data storage.
In the wake of Rebecca’s death, students and advocates across the country have pressured school officials and authorities to implement anti-cyberbullying measures to protect children who are victims. In response to this, some have claimed that regulating students online is a gargantuan task and there are no legal definite boundaries of how far students can be monitored during after school hours.
Last month a bill was passed before the US Health, Senate, Labor and Pensions Committee that would execute preventive tactics on cyberbullying. The bill would mandate schools to allot federal funds to establish policies created to impede cyberbullying. Govtrack.us, a website that follows the progression of legislation, lists the bill of having a one percent chance of being passed into law. Until lawmakers decide that this is a social epidemic in schools and recognize that bullied children have a higher rate of committing suicide, then things will have to be done on a personal level. As for now, parents will have to get more involved to prevent their children from being bullies and/or prevent their children from being victims of bullying. Parents, counselors and teachers have to become aware of students harassing other students on the Internet and encourage reporting of bullying.
By Isriya Kendrick