Tuesday, March 11th, 2014
Children who are bullied in school may be more than twice as likely to commit or attempt suicide than kids who do not experience bullying, according to a new study conducted in the Netherlands. Cyber-bullying, in which bullying words and threats are communicated via social media and other electronic means, was linked with an even higher suicide rate than bullying that happens in person. More from Reuters:
“We found that suicidal thoughts and attempted suicides are significantly related to bullying, a highly prevalent behavior among adolescents,” Mitch van Geel told Reuters Health in an email.
Van Geel is the study’s lead author from the Institute of Education and Child Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands.
He said it’s estimated that between 15 and 20 percent of children and teens are involved in bullying as the perpetrator, victim or both.
“Thus efforts should continue to reduce bullying among children and adolescents, and to help those adolescents and children involved in bullying,” he wrote.
While previous studies have found links between bullying and suicidal thoughts and attempted suicides, less is known about whether the association differs between boys and girls. Also, fewer studies have examined the role of cyberbullying.
For the new analysis, published in JAMA Pediatrics, the researchers searched databases for previous studies published on bullying.
They found 34 studies that examined bullying and suicidal thoughts among 284,375 participants between nine and 21 years old. They also found nine studies that examined the relationship between bullying and suicide attempts among 70,102 participants of the same age.
Overall, participants who were bullied were more than twice as likely to think about killing themselves. They were also about two and a half times more likely to attempt killing themselves.
Image: Sad boy, via Shutterstock
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Friday, November 22nd, 2013
Katelyn Roman, a 13-year-old Florida girl whose felony charges were dropped yesterday in the case of a schoolmate’s suicide that was allegedly prompted by cyber-bullying, is telling the media, “I do not feel l did anything wrong.” In September, 12-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick took her life after her family said she was “absolutely terrorized” by cyberbullies who were taunting her on social media. Roman and another girl–unnamed because she is a juvenile, were charged with third-degree aggravated stalking last month, but the charges have been dropped. More from Today.com:
Katelyn and a 14-year-old girl whom TODAY is not identifying because she is a juvenile were charged last month after Polk County (Fla.) Sheriff Grady Judd saw a derogatory post on Facebook that he claims was written by one of them. The two girls were arrested after Judd said they were allegedly involved in the bullying of Rebecca Sedwick, 12, who committed suicide on Sept. 9, with the 14-year-old allegedly writing on Facebook, “Yes ik [I know] I bullied Rebecca nd she killed her self but IDGAF [I don't give a f---].”
Judd also publicly revealed the girls’ names and their mug shots at an Oct. 15 news conference and told TODAY on Oct. 16 that one of the girls did something “despicable” with the post on Facebook.
On Wednesday, the Florida state attorney’s office announced that charges had been dropped and withheld comment on its reasoning because both girls are juveniles. After his public outrage over the alleged bullying by the two girls last month, Judd said at a news conference Wednesday that he was “exceptionally pleased with the outcome of the case.”
“We see the children are going to get the services they need,’’ Judd told reporters, referring to both girls being in counseling. “That’s the best outcome for juveniles. Our goal is that these kids never bully anyone again.”
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Wednesday, October 9th, 2013
Kevin Breel, at age 19, has given a TED talk in which he’s painfully honest about living with depression as a teenager, and feeling that stigmas that surround mental health were stopping him from asking for help. More from Today.com:
Like many of the 121 million people worldwide who suffer from depression, Breel said he was leading a double life. In high school, while everyone else saw a happy popular kid and star on the basketball court, deep inside there was a boy tortured by intense pain that kept ratcheting up.
“I’d look at the school,” Breel told Geist. “And I would know in my head that, ‘I’m about to walk in there and smile, laugh, high-five people, and put on a total front.’”
If you haven’t been depressed, there’s no way to understand it.
“Real depression isn’t being sad when something in your life goes wrong,” Breel says. “Real depression is being sad when everything in your life is going right.”
“I felt like I couldn’t be happy,” Breel added.
He believes his depression was triggered by the tragic loss of a best friend coupled with the divorce of his parents, and he turned his feelings of loss and anger inward.
“I started to, in a way, hate myself,” he said. “I felt so unhappy and I couldn’t explain why or justify why to anyone. So I didn’t feel like I could talk about it.”
As a teenager he used sports as a way to escape his pain. But his successes, instead of making him feel good, only underscored how bad he felt.
“We had just won a high school basketball championship, and I was leading scorer of the tournament,” Breel said. “I was first team all-star, and our team won the championship. I had everything that I had thought of for four years. And I realized that that wasn’t going to take away my pain.”
See Breel’s whole TED talk here:
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Monday, September 16th, 2013
The recent suicide of Rebecca Ann Sedwick, a 12-year-old Florida girl who was the victim of cyberbullying has brought to national attention the alarming ways in which social media applications can be used by bullies to terrorize young people–all too often to deadly results. The New York Times has more:
Rebecca was “absolutely terrorized on social media,” Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County said at a news conference this week.
Along with her grief, Rebecca’s mother, Tricia Norman, faces the frustration of wondering what else she could have done. She complained to school officials for several months about the bullying, and when little changed, she pulled Rebecca out of school. She closed down her daughter’s Facebook page and took her cellphone away. She changed her number. Rebecca was so distraught in December that she began to cut herself, so her mother had her hospitalized and got her counseling. As best she could, Ms. Norman said, she kept tabs on Rebecca’s social media footprint.
It all seemed to be working, she said. Rebecca appeared content at her new school as a seventh grader. She was gearing up to audition for chorus and was considering slipping into her cheerleading uniform once again. But unknown to her mother, Rebecca had recently signed on to new applications — ask.fm, and Kik and Voxer — which kick-started the messaging and bullying once again.
“I had never even heard of them; I did go through her phone but didn’t even know,” said Ms. Norman, 42, who works in customer service. “I had no reason to even think that anything was going on. She was laughing and joking.”
Sheriff Judd said Rebecca had been using these messaging applications to send and receive texts and photographs. His office showed Ms. Norman the messages and photos, including one of Rebecca with razor blades on her arms and cuts on her body. The texts were full of hate, her mother said: “Why are you still alive?” “You’re ugly.”
One said, “Can u die please?” To which Rebecca responded, with a flash of resilience, “Nope but I can live.” Her family said the bullying began with a dispute over a boy Rebecca dated for a while. But Rebecca had stopped seeing him, they said.
Rebecca was not nearly as resilient as she was letting on. Not long before her death, she had clicked on questions online that explored suicide. “How many Advil do you have to take to die?”
In hindsight, Ms. Norman wonders whether Rebecca kept her distress from her family because she feared her mother might take away her cellphone again.
“Maybe she thought she could handle it on her own,” Ms. Norman said.
It is impossible to be certain what role the online abuse may have played in her death. But cyberbullying experts said cellphone messaging applications are proliferating so quickly that it is increasingly difficult for parents to keep pace with their children’s complex digital lives.
“It’s a whole new culture, and the thing is that as adults, we don’t know anything about it because it’s changing every single day,” said Denise Marzullo, the chief executive of Mental Health America of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville, who works with the schools there on bullying issues.
Image: Girl on computer, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, September 12th, 2013
Adopted children may be more likely to attempt or commit suicide than their non-adopted siblings, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Minnesota. More from Reuters:
Researchers urged doctors to be on the lookout for signs of trouble in adopted teen patients but said parents should not be overly alarmed by the results.
“While our findings suggest that adoptees may have an elevated risk for suicide attempt, the majority of the adopted individuals in our study were psychologically well-adjusted,” lead author Margaret Keyes, a psychologist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, said.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 10 and 24 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the agency, 4,600 youth deaths each year in the U.S. are suicides, and a much larger number of young people make attempts to take their own lives.
Previous research in Sweden found that adopted kids in that country were more likely to attempt suicide than nonadopted kids, but no comparable study had been done in the U.S., according to Keyes and her coauthors writing in the journal Pediatrics.
Image: Sad teenager, via Shutterstock
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