Teen Suicide and Bullying
Bullying is a worldwide problem that can be linked to teen suicide.The third leading cause of death in youth is suicide, which results in nearly 4,400 deaths per year (Centers for Disease Control, 2012).At least half of these deaths are caused by bullying.
Although bullying is still seen by many to be a normal part of growing up, it is a severe problem that leads to many negative effects, including suicide. Unfortunately, there is not a definitive solution to this problem.
However, there are multiple ways to help teens who are contemplating suicide due to bullying: seeking immediate medical help, encouraging teens to talk, parents keeping communication open, and by parents communicating with school authorities. Bullying is a form of abuse that is displayed toward the victim which forms an unhealthy relationship. This relationship consists of the bully having continual control of the victim’s life for an extended period of time. It gives the bully a sense of empowerment that they continue to feed off of.
This is much different from school aged aggression that typically has a one-time occurrence, such as fighting or teasing between friends. Conversely, bullying can lead to suicide. Bully related suicide can be connected to any type of bullying, whether it is physical bullying, emotional bullying, cyber bullying, sexting, or even the circulating of suggestive photos of a person. Sadly, over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide and almost seven percent have actually attempted it. The power obtained by the bully over the victim can be devastating and can lead to many negative effects.
Bullying can lead to poor mental health such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. Nearly 160,000 children stay home from school every day due to fear of torment by other students. This causes the students grades to drop and adds to the victim’s sense of failure. These effects can become so debilitating that the victim may turn to suicide as their way of ending the internal pain. Emotional pain felt by the victim can become so overwhelming that they believe the only way out is through suicide. They may feel as if no one cares or that it would be pointless to reach out to someone because it might even make things worse.
Sadly, many times victims feel that they are alone and no one could possibly understand what they are going through. In the case of Amanda Todd, she was bullied and ridiculed at school and online to the point where she felt she could no longer live. Unfortunately, she experienced verbal, physical, and emotional pain at the hands of her peers including people she believed liked her. She was tortured on a daily basis and felt there was no way out. Amanda changed schools as an attempt to end the torment. Unfortunately, as in many cases, the bullying followed her.
Amanda attempted suicide on a couple of occasions. She tried reaching out by posting a video on YouTube telling her story. Sadly, a week later she committed suicide. Amanda Todd was a victim to one of the cruelest forms of abuse that is happening today all over the world. Could her suicide have been prevented? According to reports, many of Amanda’s peers did not notice any signs of this struggle. However, she cried out for help not only through her video posted on the internet, but well before that by her multiple attempts of suicide.
It may have been possible to save her life if there were more awareness brought to her community on bullying and suicide. If people knew what signs to look for and would have noticed the red flags just from sheer knowledge, Amanda Todd may have received the help she wanted and so badly needed. Although there is no definitive solution to the problem of teen suicide from bullying, there are several ways to prevent a majority of this from happening. One extremely important way to help a teen who is suicidal is to immediately seek medical attention.
Doctors and medical professionals are able to find problems that others cannot see. They provide hope for teens contemplating ending their lives. Medical professionals are able to diagnose underlying conditions that are typically found in youth who are at risk for suicidal tendencies. Most mental health disorders, such as depression, can be treated. Not only can these professionals diagnose and treat illnesses but they can also provide teens and parents with resources and useful information. Another great way to prevent teen suicide is to encourage them to talk.
Suppressing thoughts and feelings, typically makes things worse. Therefore, getting teens to open up and talk is a great way for them to relieve their burdened hearts. Having them verbalize their thoughts and feelings helps them and others to have a better understanding of what they are going through. Likewise, when a teen is being bullied it is important that they express how they have been hurt. It creates an awareness of the problem which can lead to finding a solution. Sometimes, when a teen is thinking about suicide, what they really want is someone to listen to them.
They just want to know that they are not alone. One of the best things a parent can do is keep the lines of communication open with their children. It becomes increasingly important throughout the teen years as they experience many changes such as emotional, physical and hormonal. Communication between parent and child is crucial for the child to feel comfortable opening up to them and discussing any problem they may be having. Being involved allows this team to identify the existence of bullying and suicidal thoughts along with other problems.
Connor and Rueter (2006) found that a warm and supportive relationship, especially with the father, shielded a teen from emotional distress and suicidal tendencies. Most importantly, communication and openness can be a deterrent to suicide. When a teen communicates that they are being bullied it is helpful for parents to discuss it with school authorities stop existing problems. This is another way to help prevent teen suicide due to bullying. Since a majority of bullying takes place on or near school campuses, it is the school’s responsibility along with the parents to take action in addressing situations as such.
School authorities can help monitor a teen that is in distress and offer great resources to help solve the issues they may facing. By parents communicating with the teen’s school, they can share their ideas and find what works best for the community and their students to stop bullying and prevent teen suicide. Bullying is a major problem happening to teens all over the world. Although there is not a definitive solution to bullying and the connection to teen suicide, there are many preventive measures that can be taken. Seeking immediate medical help for teens who want to commit suicide can be life changing.
Encouraging teens to talk will allow them to express their thoughts and feelings instead of internalizing them. Likewise, parents can help prevent teen suicide by keeping the lines of communication open. It lets teens take comfort in knowing they have someone to talk to. When bullying and thoughts of suicide become a part of a teen’s life, it is important that the parent speaks to school authorities. This enables the school and parents to team up against the problems. Anyone can play a part in saving a life by working together to prevent teen suicide from bullying.