Bullying Cases Increase Thoughts of Suicide

Suicide thoughts increase in both bully victims and bullies

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) When you get a call home that your child has been involved in a bullying case—as the bully or the bullied—addressing and correcting the issues could prevent future psychological distress.

English researchers investigating bullying discovered that both bullies and their victims are more likely to have thoughts of suicide by age eleven—victims more so than bullies.

"Talk to a counselor if your child is affected by bullying.   "

Professor Dieter Wolke, Ph.D., of the University of Warwick’s Medical School, and co-authors explain that “bully-victims” are between three and six times more likely to have suicidal thoughts, dependent on the duration of their torment. Bullies also thought about self-harm and suicide, though the numbers were not as consistent.

Their investigation looked into 6,043 adolescents taking part in the University of Bristol’s Children of the 90's research, a longitudinal study including thousands of parents and children. Mothers enrolled during pregnancy and continued to provide genetic and environmental information ever since.

For their purposes, Dr. Wolke’s research team analyzed data on children between four and ten years old as well as the prevalence of suicidal thoughts between ages eleven and twelve. Information collected from parents, teachers, and the children were used to determine the prevalence of bullying in their lives.

"Our study findings suggest that suicide-related behavior is a serious problem for pre-adolescent youth: 4.8-percent of this community population reported suicidal thoughts and 4.6-percent reported suicidal or self-injurious behavior,” expresses Wolke.

Published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the analysis uncovered that these suicidal thoughts were six times more likely in those bullied persistently over time, three times more likely in those who had simply been bullied, and even more likely in the bullies compared to those steering clear of bully beat-downs. Unfortunately, these negative thoughts don’t stop there.

Looking further into the research, their reports demonstrate no commonalities between family factors or pre-existing emotional problems, but rather suggest the increase to be due to bullying alone. However, dailyRx contributing expert LuAnn Pierce, a therapist at Denver's Turning Points Counseling Center, believes commonalities do exist between bullies.  

"Almost every aggressive kid or teenager I have ever met had experienced or witnessed repeated abuse, whether at home or at school," expresses Pierce.  Many times bullies were first victims, either at home or in school, and came to prefer the feelings of power and control over those of fear and helplessness.  

"Victims and victim-bullies tend to internalize things, which is both a hallmark and risk factor of depression," she explains.  "Cruel and demeaning remarks become self-talk; confidence and self-esteem is further eroded. Faulty thinking becomes the norm.

"All of these kids need help, and usually their family members do, too." 

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 1, 2012
Last Updated:
March 1, 2012