This study investigates the relationship between suicide and bullying among teenagers and adolescents in school and strategies for preventing bullying. Bullying is a risk factor for suicidal ideation and attempts in school-aged children and teenagers. Because youth suicide is an urgent and serious issue, we conducted a systematic review of 28 previous studies on children and adolescents investigating the relationship between bullying experiences and suicide.
Data collection: A literature search was conducted using four databases that did not include a date description: PubMed, PsychInfo, Medline, and Google Scholar. Bullying, suicide and bullying, teen suicide, school bullying, and peer victimization were among the search terms. An initial search yielded approximately 97 articles, but only 28 were appropriate for inclusion in the current review. (1) Cross-sectional studies published between 1997 and 2013 were eligible for inclusion. (2) Study based on school bullying and suicidal risk in adolescents and teens 18 years or less (3) Studies had enough information to calculate effect sizes that did include a control group. (4) Gender discrimination research. Papers focused on specific populations did not include quantitative data, did not use a control group of non-bullied subjects, and studies based on cyberbullying were excluded, as studied with a longitudinal design.
Girls involved in bullying, either as victims or perpetrators, had a higher risk of suicide attempts than boys. After being bullied for an extended period, a child may develop depression, hopelessness, and loneliness; these feelings are linked to suicidal ideation and attempts. Bullying increases the likelihood of suicidal ideation and attempts in children and adolescents.
School bullying, Suicide, and Teens are key terms.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death in the United States for people aged 15 to 24.
1 Teen suicide is a tragic global public health issue that affects young people. After losing a loved one, the surviving family members and friends are emotionally devastated. One in every six high school students has seriously considered suicide, and one in every twelve has attempted it. 1 Furthermore, teen suicide rates have been rising in recent years, rising from 6.3% in 2009 to 7.8% in 2011, and more youth suicides have been reported as a result of bullying. 2 Furthermore, recent bullying-related suicide deaths suggest a strong relationship between bullying and suicide. 1
School bullying occurs in the context of education, whether inside or outside the classroom. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or social, typically repeated over time. Physical bullying includes hitting, kicking, slapping, pushing, spitting, causing property damage, and stealing. Teasing, mocking, name-calling, verbal humiliation/intimidation, threats, cruelty, extortion, and racist, sexist, or homophobic taunts are all examples of verbal bullying. Examples of social bullying are gossip, rumour spreading, embarrassment, alienation or exclusion from the group, and using the Internet, email, or text messaging to threaten. 1 According to studies, bullies are aggressive children. 1 They believe that violence is the proper way to interact with other children. 2 They are insecure youth who fear that other children will harm them. Hence, they fight to defend themselves while attempting to demonstrate their strength. Bullies frequently exhibit impulsive behaviour. 1, 2.
Data Relating to School Bullying
Bullying has had the following effects: (1) It is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day for fear of being attacked or intimidated by other students. (2) Ninety per cent of fourth through eighth graders report being bullied. (3) One out of every seven students in grades K-12 is either a bully or a victim of bullying. 1 According to bullying statistics, the most common motivation for school shootings is vengeance, and harassment and bullying have been linked to 75% of school-shooting incidents. 2Eighty-seven per cent of students said they shoot to “get back at those who have wronged them.”2
A national youth risk behaviour survey by the CDC revealed that more than 1,700 adolescents aged 15 to 19 committed suicide yearly.
2,3 In 2009, 6.3% of high school students attempted suicide one or more times in 12 months, with 8.1% being female and 4.6% being male.
1,3 According to Yale University research, victims of bullying are 2 to 9 times more likely than non-victims to consider suicide. 1 Suicide is the third leading cause of death in the United States for people aged 15 to 24. 1 A semi-annual survey on youth risk behaviour conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2012 revealed that one in every six high school students has seriously considered suicide, and one in every twelve has attempted it. 2 Furthermore, recent bullying-related suicide deaths suggest a strong relationship between bullying and suicide. 1 The more often a child is bullied, the more overwhelming the situation becomes. When a child is depressed, they experience feelings of loneliness and sadness. They lose interest in activities, blame themselves for everything bad that happens to them, and believe that life isn’t worth living. Some young people express their depression through violence and aggression, which can lead to suicidal or destructive thoughts. As a result, interpersonal conflicts are the root cause of most adolescent suicide attempts. The goal of the behaviour appears to be to influence the actions or attitudes of others. As a result, the most important thing for a young person who is suicidal is to seek professional help as soon as possible because suicidal feelings can be very strong.
Table I: Various studies on adolescent suicide
Country of study Population studied/age group.
Country of study Population studied/age group
1-Rivers I, 2010. UK 2,002, boys and girls aged 12 to 16 years.
16-Kim YS, Korea, 2009, 6,043, 4 and 10 years boys and girls
2-Barker E.D., 2008. UK 3,932, 14-16-year-old boys and girls
17-Park High School, 2006, Korea 1300 high school boys and girls
3-D. Wolke, 2001, 2377 children 6-8-year-old boys and girls 18-Kim Y.S., Korea 1718, 7 and 8 grade, boys and girls, 2005.
4-Arseneault L, 2006, UK 2232 children, ages 5 and 7, boys and girls
19-Hepburn L,2012, USA 1,838 boys and girls in grades 9-12.
5-Rivers I, North England 1,009, high school boys and girls, 2013.
20-Klomek AB, 2011, USA 96, boys and girls aged 13 to 18 years.
6-Luukkonen A.H., 508 adolescents, Finland, 2009 12-17-year-old boys and girls 21-Klomek A.B., USA 2342, 9th-12th grade boys and girls.
7-Brunner R, Germany 5759, 9th grade, boys and girls.
22-Patrick DL, USA 27,752, 8, 10, and 12-grade boys and girls, 2013.
8-Baldry A.C., 2003, Italy 998 adolescents, ages 8 to 13, boys and girls
23-Bauman S, 1391 high school students, boys and girls, USA, 2013.
9-Rigby K, South Australia 845 secondary school, 12-16 boys and girls, 1999
H.A. Abdirahman, 24 Caribbean 2012 6780, boys and girls in middle school.
Pakistan 4676, class 8-10, 14-16 boys and girls, 10-Shaikh A M, 2013.
2009, 25-LeVasseur MT, USA
Boys and girls youth survey, 2009
11-McMahon EM, Ireland, 1870, only adolescents boys
26-Hanley AJ, USA 448, 2011, 4-5 grade, 10-12 years boys and girls
12-Emmanuel R, Uganda Uganda Global School-Based Health Survey, adolescent, 2007.
Two thousand three hundred forty-eight boys were born in 1981 at 27-Klomek A.B. in Finland.
13-Skapinakis P, 2011 Greece 5614, boys and girls aged 16-18 years
Van der 28th, 2003, Netherlands.
4811 boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 13
West African country 14-Owusu A 7137 students attended high school in 2011.
15-Cui S, China, 8778, adolescent boys and girls, 2011.
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In cross-sectional studies, there is a link between bullying and suicidal ideation and attempt.
Bullying and the dangers of self-harm
These cross-sectional studies found that victims of bullying have higher levels of suicidal ideation and a higher risk of attempting suicide than non-victims.
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4-6 The link between bullying and suicidal ideation/suicide attempts is not limited to bullied students; the bullies also report it.
5,6 These children have been rejected, are unpopular among their peers and develop early personality issues. 7 Suicidal ideation and behaviour may attempt to alleviate unbearable emotional states in these children and adolescents. 8 Students who were both victims and perpetrators of bullying, on the other hand, were at the highest risk of suicidal ideation and suicide attempt. 4-11 compared to bullied adolescents who did not engage in bullying behaviour. According to one study, children play multiple roles in bullying behaviour, such as victim, bully, and bystander (Children who witness bullying but do not report it. These children (who may be embarrassed by their behaviour) were significantly more likely to report having considered suicide. 6
Bullying has an impact on mental health.
According to studies, bullies/victims are more likely to have suicidal thoughts due to an increased risk of mental health problems.
12-15 These dangers could be attributed to the emergence of increased emotional arousal and poor impulse control. 16,17 Findings also showed a link between suicidal behaviour, bullying victimization experiences, and depression, facilitating the link between bullying/victimization and suicide attempts. 18 A recent study in Pakistan revealed the effects of sleep patterns in bullied victims and how it leads to serious thoughts of suicide. 19 The study also discovered that children who are lonely and sleep a lot are twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts. These children were bullied within the last thirty days, unlike those who do not have insomnia or feel lonely. Age and gender were found to be not statistically significant. 19 Victimization increased the likelihood of bullying involvement over time, whereas bullying increased the likelihood of victimization. 10 Suicidal ideation was most common among bullied adolescents when depression symptoms were controlled. 10
The goal of the behaviour appears to be to influence the actions or attitudes of others. As a result, the most important thing for a young person who is suicidal is to seek professional help as soon as possible because suicidal feelings can be very strong. H. A. Abdirahman and colleagues discovered a strong link between bullying and poor mental health in Caribbean studies. They emphasize the critical need to develop effective strategies for reducing bullying among children and adolescents. 20 Bullying, according to Brunner and colleagues, has an indirect effect on suicide. Their findings indicate a link between bullying and intentional self-harm (DSH). If the DSH behaviour persists, a strong link between DSH and suicidal behaviour develops. 21 Bullying impacts suicide ideation and attempts in both direct and indirect ways. For example, a significant negative outcome of victimization may be an increased risk of suicide attempts and death in the child due to an increasing sense of hopelessness. 22 Verbal victimization was linked to an increased risk of developing hopelessness in elementary school children, according to research. 22 Furthermore, research has found that problems in peer relationships are positively associated with suicidal ideation and attempts and that feelings of loneliness exacerbate the association. 4,23 Evidence also showed that helplessness is significantly associated with suicidal ideation in youth who witness bullying at school. 24
The dose-response relationship
Several studies have found a dose-response relationship between victimization and suicidal ideation and attempt. The more frequently a child is bullied, the more likely they will develop these thoughts and ideas. 13
Gender and Bullying
Several studies had found a link between bullying victims and suicidal ideation and attempt when age, race/ethnicity, and gender were all controlled for. Another finding was the link between gender and school bullying as a risk factor for suicidal ideation. For example, it has been discovered that the prevalence of suicidal ideation may vary. When McMahon et al. examined the prevalence of bullying in Irish adolescent boys, they discovered that the odds ratio of lifetime self-harm was four times higher for boys who had been bullied than for boys who had not been bullied. 25 Being bullied or bullying others is a potential impulsive risk factor for suicidal behaviour among girls. After controlling for age, school factors, family factors, and psychiatric disorders, girls who were bullied (OR=2.07, CI=1.04-4.11, p=0.037) or bullied others (OR=3.27, CI=1.08-9.95, p=0.037) had a higher risk of suicide attempts. 26
Various studies, however, find varying effects of gender. An Italian school survey found a high prevalence of victimization, and their regression model revealed the importance of child gender and age. They discovered that older girls were more likely to have suicidal thoughts than younger girls or boys. 12 Barker and colleagues also stated that middle-aged adolescents had the highest prevalence of bullies and bullying victims. These youth have high/increasing victimization and bullying trajectories. 10 According to one study, older adolescents are more likely to have suicidal thoughts. 27
Similarly, Kim and Luukkonen et al. discovered that female victims or perpetrators of school bullying were more likely to commit suicide.
5,26 According to Van der Wal and Park et al.28,29, there is a strong link between bullying and suicidal ideation in girls. 29 Similarly, depression aided the link between bullying/victimization and suicide attempts, but in different ways for men and women. A few studies found that depression mediated the link between traditional bullying and female suicide attempts. 18 Van der et al. discovered that bullying has a common outcome of suicidal ideation in both boys and girls. These associations were stronger for indirect bullying than for direct bullying. They went on to say that direct bullying significantly impacted depression and suicidal ideation in girls but not in boys. 28 Rigby and Slee, on the other hand, claimed that the link between being a bully and suicidal ideation was limited to boys. 30
Bullying and sexual orientation
Patrick and his colleague examined data from the 2010 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey, collected in public school grades 8, 10, and 12. They discovered that children were bullied more because of their sexual orientation.
31 They discovered that 29% of male and 27% of female students in these three grades were bullied because of their sexual orientation. 31,32 Lower quality of life (QOL) scores were also linked to an increased risk of depression or suicidal ideation, according to the survey. 26,31 Similarly, another secondary data analysis of the 2009 New York City Youth Risk Behavior Survey employed logistic regression to investigate the relationship between sexual identity, gender, ethnicity, bullying, and suicide attempts. Bullying had the greatest impact on suicide attempts among non-Hispanic sexual minority male youths (odds ratio = 21.39 vs 1.65-3.38). 31
Long-term, prospective studies are needed to determine the causality of bullying and suicide and the differential effects of gender on the association. The media plays an important role in covering and broadcasting suicide-related teen deaths. For example, if teenage suicide is underreported for a good reason, there is less risk of glorifying the behaviour and less risk of suicidal clusters. Another way for the media to help is to educate the public about the seriousness of bullying and its consequences.
Bullying in schools is a major public health issue that requires the careful attention of school systems, teachers, healthcare providers, policymakers, and families. School systems can work with teachers, parents, students, and the community to address bullying issues in their schools and devise effective responses.
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