Youth Bullying/Abuse & Suicide

Youth bullying, sex abuse, physical and emotional abuse is a major problem in the United States.

Depression, bullying, sexual, physical and emotional abuse push many of our youth to attempt ending their deep pain by killing themselves. More people now die of suicide than in car accidents. 

Bullying is not something that should be taken lightly. Many simply brush off bullying as something kids will always do. Considering that it is a factor in many suicides and attempted ones parents and school officials MUST work to stop it.

What can be done to stop this seemingly never ending cycling of childhood bullying? Parents what can you do? Teachers what can you do? Victims of bullying what can you do? What is more important than saving a life folks? Especially one that is just starting. Nothing right? People need to be educated about how serious this matter of bullying is. Lets not wait until it perhaps happens in our own families or close to home before we act! Lets not allow the hustle and bustle of our modern world to prevent us from protecting our kids. 

Parents when is the last time you spoke to your child about this issue of bullying? Is your child a potential victim? Or perhaps a potential bully themselves? Are you aware of the new type of bullying cyber bullying? In this day and age with the internet and social media in addition to being bullied at school or in the neighborhood a bully can follow their victim home by bullying them on the internet.

Teachers and school officials when is the last time you had an extensive heartfelt and  informative talk with your students about the serious potential harm and effects of bullying their peers? Is this done each school year? Are very serious consequences set in place and announced and then carried out for offenders? Are victims given encouragement of protection and support if they report it? Are all students encouraged to immediately come forward and report any witnessed school bullying? Are the parents of both the bully and victim immediately notified when their children are involved in a bullying situation? If not, shouldn't they be?

statistics on bullyingName calling and bullying have been around a long time true. But does this mean that we should just simply accept it as normal and harmless? As something that kids just do? Well it is obviously not harmless to those students that were bullied and ended up committing suicide.

Bullying may not be the only factor involved when a child or young adult commits suicide, but it can and has been a contributing one. Bullying is a form of emotional and physical abuse that does not have to be a part of growing up. Online or offline bullying is harmful.

A new report on suicide in Ireland shows that suicide cases experienced a significant number (and intensity) of life events in the 6 months prior to their death. These life events include bereavement, relocation, relationship break-up, and in the cases of the younger cases, bullying (both inside and outside the school environment) and/or having been assaulted was also evident in excess. Source

In addition to the suicidal effect bullying can have on those who experience it, a new study has proven that being bullied during childhood directly increases the likelihood of self harm in late adolescence. In the general population about 8% of total teens self harm by cutting, burning, sticking sharp objects in their skin, and swallowing poisonous substances. Comparatively 16.5% of 16-17 year olds in the study had self harmed in the previous year, and 26.9% of them did so because they felt like they wanted to die. 

Those subjected to chronic bullying over several years were almost 5 times more likely to self harm. Self harming may stem from a desire to communicate stress or relieve tension, and in the most extreme cases may represent a suicidal intent in the individual. Read about the study.  Compared to individuals who were not bullied, victims of bullying were nearly three times as likely to have issues with generalized anxiety as those who were not bullied and 4.6 times as likely to suffer from panic attacks or agoraphobia. 

Parents one of the best ways we can protect our children is by maintaining a close approachable relationship with them. They should very clearly know and feel that we are there for them. Although we ourselves as parents are busy we must make sure to talk with our kids everyday about how their day was. Let your children know your interested and supportive of them. Additionally speak to them regularly about the subject of bullying and name calling.

"People bully me. I want to die." Are the words of desperation crying out for help that a mother found on a crumpled note in her daughters room. Talking to your children about bullying could prevent them from writing such a note or worse not writing it and killing themselves as some have done.

                                                       Bullied Boy Battles Back

                                 Katie Couric interviews "Bully" documentary film star Alex Libby

Watch the full documentary film on bullying "Bully"- from 2011 Link

Recent Tragic Youth Suicides Associated with Bullying:
  • A gay Oregon teen was taken off of life support after hanging himself in the playground of a local elementary school. 15-year-old Jadin Bell attempted suicide by climbing on a playground structure and hanging himself. Family friend Bud Hill, who said he considered Bell his nephew, told the news station that the high school sophomore had been the victim of intense bullying both in person and on the Internet because he was gay. Source
  • Nigel Hardy shot himself in an apparent suicide after his father reported him despondent, missing and possibly armed with a handgun. Nigel got in a fight defending himself from bullying and had been suspended from school. Source
  • In northeastern Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County, in one week four teens ranging in age from 13 to 16 succumbed to suicide. Yes, “despite hearsay claims to the contrary from students,” authorities say bullying wasn’t involved. (REALLY? None of them were related to bullying?) Were these students lying or was the school trying to hide the truth? My suspicion is the latter. Source 
                                        Student victimized by cyber bullying commits suicide           

It really frustrates me that bullying does not seem to be taken very seriously or seriously enough by many states, schools, and parents. Have not enough young lives been loss to warrant serious bullying intervention and prevention? For those of you with children do you know if your children's school has a proactive bully prevention program? If you are unsure get involved it may save a life so please call the school principal and inquire about it.

Colored map of the U.S. showing each states school suicide prevention statutes

Color chart defining each U.S. states school suicide prevention statutes

What is Bullying?

Bullying takes several forms.
  • Physical Bullying: Hitting, Beating up, Pushing, Kicking, Poking
  • Verbal Bullying: Name calling, Teasing, Threatening to harm, Insulting and Yelling
  • Relational Bullying: Excluding, Ignoring, Telling lies, Spreading rumors 
  • Cyber Bullying: Use of the internet or cell phone text messaging to send hurtful and harassing messages. 

Facts About School Bullying:
  • Emotional bullying is the most common form of bullying experienced. Name calling, making fun of another, or isolating another because of looks, race, height, weight, sexual preference, disabilities or religious beliefs.
  • Physical bullying is the 2nd most common form of bullying. Sometimes the targets of bullies are spit on, shoved, tripped, punched or kicked.
  • Although it occurs in most school levels bullying is most prevalent in middle school in grades 6th-8th. 

Parents and Teachers How can YOU Help Stop Bullying?

SAMHSA provides great suggestions in regards to helping schools and parents to more effectively stop bullying and to talk to children about the subject of bullying. Including;
  • Identify the problem: An anonymous survey called the Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire helps gather concrete information about bullying in the individual school.
  • Create a plan: Parents and teachers use this information to design interventions, including improved supervision of break times and individual work with students who have been identified as bullies and victims.
  • Set rules: Teachers and students work together to establish and reinforce a set of rules about bullying, thereby creating a positive, anti-bullying climate.
  • Provide support: Finally, parents and teachers must cooperate to provide effective protection to victims of bullying.

Teacher's or school officials, in many cases with bullies, they may have a difficult home life and might see domestic violence, emotional abuse and other forms of abuse on a regular basis. They might even be abused or bullied at home by a family member. Children like these need help as soon as possible before they perpetuate the violent cycle by becoming a bully themselves. Recommend the student to see the guidance counselor or have the child's parents take him/her to a counselor for help. If the bullying persists seek to remove that child from the school as their actions are very dangerous to other students.

Parents in addition to speaking with your child and working with your child's school to stop bullying you can do more. Read those suggestions here. Because some children try and hide the fact that they are being bullied from everyone including their parents, also be on the lookout for signs that your child is being bullied. Know the warning signs. In addition work to help your child develop social skills that may help prevent your child from becoming a bully or a bullying victim, including;
  • Teach your children the skills they need to solve the problems they may face in life.
  • Teach your children social problem solving skills directly related to the various forms of bullying physical, verbal and relational.
  • Discuss with your children how children who are bullied might feel about it.
  • Explain to your children that despite the differences that are found between people. People come in all sizes, colors and backgrounds but everyone experiences certain basic feelings. 
  • Ask your children to reflect on how they felt in situations similar to those faced by others in distress.
  • Teach your children to use basic assertiveness skills to avoid giving in to bullying tactics.
Extensive studies on school bullying among adolescents show that positive parental behaviors protect adolescents from not only bullying others but also being bullied. The protective effects were consistent for all four forms of bullying, with similar magnitudes of strength. 
Parents helping their children to develop social skills for developing friends is also a possible defense against becoming a bullying victim. Studies suggest that friendships may assist in protecting against adolescents being selected as targets of bullies. This may reflect a need to help adolescents to establish social status, especially during transition into a new group. (Journal of Adolescent Health)
Parents should also try using this helpful toolkit with their children. Parents and teachers if your state does not currently mandate both suicide prevention training for school personnel and suicide prevention education for students work to make this happen for the children.

Fellow Students How can YOU Help?
  • Be a friend to a person who is being bullied.
  • Discourage bullying rally for support for the person being bullied or report the bullying to adults that can help. Only intervene in a nonviolent way personally if it feels safe to do so. If it doesn't feel safe to do so then tell adults that you feel can be helpful in stopping the bullying
  • Don't encourage bullying behavior by giving it an audience as this is often what the bully is seeking.
  • Create a stop bullying campaign in your school. Maybe use this Youth Leaders Stop Bullying Toolkit

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
~Desmond Tutu~

Bullies do you want to know what bullying does to someone? Okay, here's what it does:
  • It lowers your victim’s self-esteem.      
  • It makes them hate themselves for just being them because all people ever do is pick on them because of it. 
  • They become very fearful and stressed and afraid to speak up because they don't want it to get worse.
  • It makes them feel like the reason they are being picked on is their fault.    
  • It damages them, so bad sometimes that they exclude themselves from any form of activity to avoid getting bullied.           
  • They get called so many names, and teased because of the way they are, or even little things like how they have glasses, wear certain clothes, their height, their weight and looks, and they feel horrible because of it.  
  • They get so put down that they start to believe the lies themselves.            
  •  It may lead to depression, self-harm, eating disorders, anxiety, or even them contemplating suicide because it can get so bad sometimes.        

But let me tell you something, if you have made the mistake of being a bully then just STOP. We all make mistakes. Show maturity and learn from yours by making the right decision to stop picking on others. It’s not right and a very dangerous choice to bully others because it is a very hurtful and dangerous thing. 

Are You Being Bullied? You are not ALONE! But What can YOU Do? 

Many people including very famous ones have also had to endure bullying and despite that struggle made it through. You can too! Have you heard of;
  • Nicki Minaj? She went through a lot of school bullying after coming to America and said it was very tough. Source
  • Julianne Hough also endured school bullying and even ate her lunch in the bathroom to try and avoid it. Source
  • During his school days, Eminem was beaten up so badly that his mother filed charges at the Detroit school system for not protecting her son. 
  • In school, Taylor Swift was dumped by a group of popular girls that she hung out with for not being cool or pretty enough. They also found her to be weird because she liked country music.
  • Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps often get bullied for his ears which poked out, his lanky body, and lisp.
  • Former President Bill Clinton was known as the fat band boy in school who got punched by a 6'6" kid right in the face.
  • Pro Golfer Tiger Woods was tied to a tree and bullied by older school kids taunting him with racial slurs.Woods also struggled with a stuttering problem.
  • The singing superstar Lady Gaga told reporters that in school she was thrown into a trash can. As well as being called humiliating and profane names in front of large groups of people Lady Gaga has since started a foundation to help kids who are bullied.
  • Actress Brittany Snow was bullied on a daily basis by a girl at her school. This girl would write a note each day telling Snow how she should kill herself. Her bully would also hit and throw things at her. The bullying affected her physical and mental health. Snow has battled issues with depression, anorexia, and cutting herself.
  • Justin Timberlake was made fun of in school for his bad acne and weird hair. He found himself to be a social outcast where he grew up because he preferred music to football.
  • Actor and comedian Chris Rock was bullied in school and in his neighborhood.
  • As one of the smaller kids in school, Tom Cruise was always being picked on by bullies. 50 celebrities that were bullied in school
According to statistics over 13 million American kids will be bullied this year. So you are not alone many people have had to deal with bullies in their life.

So what should you do if you are being bullied?
  • If the bullying is a first occurrence and of a nonviolent type try taking away the power of the bully by not allowing their words to affect you. Bullies often do so for the reaction they get.
  • In any event talk to your parents immediately no matter what type bullying it is. If the bullying occurs more than once tell your parents each and every time it does occur.
  • If the bullying persists talk to your school principle or teacher and explain to them what is going on. If that person does not seem to be taking you seriously then talk to someone else at your school.
  • If the bullying is of a violent nature talk to your parents about calling the police. 
Your life is valuable and your future is bright. Do not allow a person like a bully to prevent you from realizing your dreams. If after all of the above attempts the bullying persists, talk to your parents about changing schools. You deserve to be safe at school. Never go to school if you feel unsafe. Please do not give up you have so much to look forward to in life do not let a bully rob you of that.


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