Rise and Shine shared information from Adelaide Robb, MD, who is the Chief of the Division of Psychology and Behavioral Health, specializing in pediatric mood disorders, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. that according to a study published by JAMA Pediatrics, bullied teens are twice as likely to consider suicide and nearly two-and-a-half times as likely to actually attempt suicide. In addition, the study found that teens who were cyberbullied were more than three times as likely to contemplate suicide as other kids. October is National Bullying Prevention Month and in observance, we spoke with Adelaide Robb, MD, Chief of the Division of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, about bullying and adolescent suicide.
The implications of bullying
Bullying makes a child feel hopeless, helpless, and hated, which can lead to low self-esteem, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to Dr. Robb.
In response to the study, Dr. Robb said, “It’s not just bullying.” She noted that bullying is just one of many potential contributors that can lead to suicide. Other risk factors include depression, bipolar disorder, psychiatric disorders, physical abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, LBGT or a prior suicide attempt.
Bullying is no longer just a problem that arises at recess or on the school bus. With advances in technology, kids can bully others through devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication channels like social media sites, apps, text messages, chat, and websites.
Traditional bullying vs. cyberbullying
While previous studies reported that traditional bullying and cyberbullying were equally harmful, this study found that cyberbullying increased the risk of suicide in children.
Cyberbullying can intensify a teen’s vulnerability because it allows peers to post negative messages anonymously and can also quickly reach a wider audience, Dr. Robb explained. While a teen may be able to delete inappropriate messages, texts or photos, the content is stored online, which could result in a victim reliving these previous demeaning experiences.
How to tell if your child is being bullied
Increased awareness of bullying is important and can help parents intervene before it escalates further. Dr. Robb lists several common signs of bullying that parents should be aware of, including:
- Sudden changes in friends
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork
- Unexplainable injuries
- Lost or destroyed possessions
- Self-destructive behavior
For more information on the signs a child is being bullied or bullying others, visit www.stopbullying.gov.
Furthermore, parents should be aware of the signs of suicide in teens such as giving away possessions, not wanting to be around family, hopelessness and a lack of future-oriented thinking. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline lists additional warning signs and how to get help.