In a new study conducted by Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D. and Justin W. Patchin, Ph.D. of the Cyberbullying Research Center shows that 20% of a random survey of middle-school students reported that they seriously contemplated attempting suicide. Even with a recent decrease of suicide rates in young people, there is an upward trend in the 10 to 19 year-old age group. In the study, the correlating factor is bullying and cyberbullying.
Bullying is a noted factor in the study that shows that those that are bullied are at an elevated risk for suicidal thoughts. The study shows that youth that experience peer harassment (including the harasser), are more likely to suffer with depression, decreased self-worth, hopelessness, and loneliness, which are factors that lead to suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
In the study, approximately 2,000 randomly selected middle-school students from the most populous school districts in the United States were surveyed. The results were a little surprising:
- 20% of the students reported that they seriously think about attempting suicide
- 19% of the students reported attempting suicide
In regard to bullying behaviors, the statistics from the report show the following:
- 27.7% said that they called another student mean names, made fun of or teased someone in a hurtful way
- 29.3% said that they were the victim where other students told lies
In terms of cyberbullying:
- 23.1% said they posted something online about another person to make others laugh
- 18.3% said they received an upsetting email from someone they knew
The study also found that cyberbullying victims were twice as likely to have attempted suicide compared to those that had not experienced cyberbullying. In terms of total suicidal thought statistics, the study found that traditional bullying victims where 1.7 times more likely and traditional bullying offenders were 2.1 times more likely to have attempted suicide than those that were not victims or offenders.
Cyberbullying victims where 1.9 times more likely and cyberbullying offenders were 1.5 times more likely to have attempted suicide than those that were not cyberbullying victims or offenders.
The study acknowledges that many of the teenagers who did commit suicide after experiencing bullying or cyberbulling had other emotional issues ongoing in their lives including, but not limited to:
- Low self-esteem
- Struggled academically or had special needs
The study finds that bullying and cyberbullying exacerbates instability and hopelessness in the minds of those adolescents who are already struggling with life stresses at their age. This study shows that parents, adult mentors, and school administrators/counselors must always be aware of the emotional state of the children under their watch to observe changes in behavior and have an alert system to take appropriate action. To read the study summary in its entirety, click here.