We all know that bullying can cause anxiety, lower our self esteem and contribute to the development of other behavioral difficulties, such as stuttering, eating disorders and learning difficulties. Researchers have also found that there is a strong association with youth suicide and suicide in later life.
Three key studies have been undertaken to analyse that link - with their findings including:
- There is evidence of a strong correlation between childhood bullying (both victim and perpetrator) and the risk of suicide in later life (1) (2) (3).
- A victim often experiences humiliation and defeat, which then leads to feelings of hopelessness(1). When combined with other factors, such as violence at home, the feelings are increased(1).
- 20 - 30% of school children are frequently involved in bullying as perpetrators and/or victims (in England , for example, in a survey of 253,755 respondents, the figure was 28.8%(1)).
- Young people who are bullied, perpetrators or both are more likely to consider suicide - however there is some variation in the thinking as to whether the victims' ideation may in fact be similar to that of a perpetrator, or indeed to where they may be both victim and perpetrator(3)(2)(1).
- A survey of young people in the USA indicated that ethnicity, immigrant status or gender at the time of survey did not alter the findings of suicide ideation in youth(2).
- In a study that examined the outcomes at age 25 for children who had been bullied at age 8, it was found that the results differed by gender(3). For boys, the correlation was found to be low, in particular if boys received support for conduct issues and depression before reaching 25. For girls at 25 years of age who had been bullied at age 8, there was deemed to be a direct correlation between bullying and suicidal ideation, irrespective if whether support was provided or not(3).
- Bullying can impact the development of social skills, further isolating the person in later life(1).
- Boys more often experience physical victimisation, while girls are more likely to experience indirect relational victimisation, which results in a greater levels of mental health issues for girls, including depression and loneliness(3).
- Coping mechanisms may be higher in boys than girls. Girls may find stressful life events more difficult to cope with(3).
- Bullying often occurs in concert with sexual abuse, severe beatings and running away from home. Perpetrators then recognise that the victims are vulnerable and start to, or increase, bullying(1).
Victims of bullying in childhood and suicide attempts in adulthood.
Elsevier Masson SAS. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2010.11.006
Bullying and Suicidal Behaviors Among Urban High School Youth.
Society for adolescent Health and Medicine. Doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2011.12.014
Childhood Bullying Behaviors as a Risk for Suicide Attempts and Completed Suicides: A Population-Based Birth Cohort Study.
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. doi 10.1097/CHI.0b013e318196b91f