Bullying and suicidal ideas strongly linked

  • Deborah Condon

Researchers have identified clear risk factors for suicidal ideas and behaviour among children who are being bullied.

According to the team from the US, bullying is a major public health issue and more research in this area is needed. They looked at children who were aged around 11, 14 and 17 years. Over half of these said that they had either been bullied themselves or had bullied someone else.

A strong link between bullying and suicidal ideas and attempts was found.

"Given that many students are involved in bullying, and bullying involvement is strongly associated with thinking about or attempting suicide, we wanted to find ways to identify who was most at risk for these negative outcomes, and how we can foster protection for them," the researchers explained.

Their analysis revealed clear risk factors for suicidal behaviour among those involved in bullying. These included emotional distress, self-harm, such as cutting themselves, running away and previous childhood trauma, such as sexual abuse.

However the researchers also identified certain protective factors - in other words, factors that appeared to reduce the risk of suicidal behaviour among these vulnerable young people. The strongest of these was strong and positive parental involvement.

"Perceived caring from parents, friends, and other adults in your community, including relatives and religious leaders, were all significant protective factors for these young people at high risk for suicidality," the researchers from the University of Minnesota said.

Liking school was also seen as a protective factor among those who were being bullied.

The researchers pointed out that identifying those who are being bullied is essential so that they can be screened for these risk factors.

"Bullying is not a normative behavior for children and adolescents. It is associated with serious psychosocial problems, including suicidal behavior, and thus requires prevention, recognition and intervention," they added.

Details of these findings are published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

 

 


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