Bullying Leads to Depression and Suicidal Thoughts in Teens

Jim Liebelt

*The following is excerpted from an online article from ScienceDaily.

High school students subjected to bullying and other forms of harassment are more likely to report being seriously depressed, consider suicide and carry weapons to school, according to findings from a trio of studies reported at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in San Diego.

"Teens can be the victim of face-to-face bullying in school, electronic bullying outside of the classroom and dating violence," said Andrew Adesman, MD, senior investigator of all three studies. "Each of these experiences are associated with a range of serious adverse consequences."

All three studies were based on data collected by the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) as part of its 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System -- a biannual questionnaire of teens in grades 9-12 in all 50 states that is constructed to provide a representative sample of high school students in the United States.

In the first study, Dr. Adesman's team reports that depression and suicide are much more common in teens who have been the victim of bullying in school and/or electronically. Moreover, these risks were additive among teens who were the victim of both forms of bullying.

"Although cyber bullying may not pose the same physical threat that face-to-face bullying does, it can be far more hurtful since it can spread like wildfire throughout a student body and take on a life of its own," Dr. Adesman said.

In a second study of bullying, the investigators found that bullying, physical dating violence and/or sexual dating violence were each associated with teens not attending school or carrying weapons to school.

"Tragically, teens who were victimized in more than one way were especially likely to carry a weapon to school or skip school altogether," said Dr. Adesman.

The third study focused on teens who were victims of bullying in the past 12 months and investigated whether there are gender differences in the association of carrying a weapon to school.

On the one hand, boys were overall more likely to carry a weapon to school than girls, regardless of victim status. On the other hand, girls who were the victims of bullying were more than three times as likely to carry a weapon as girls who were not victimized; by contrast, male victims were less than twice as likely to carry a weapon compared to male non-victims.

"Girls who have been victimized are much more likely to carry a weapon; unfortunately, the CDC data does not tell us if this is for their own protection or to seek revenge," said Dr. Adesman, the senior investigator. "Effective strategies need to be developed to eliminate bullying if we want our teens to be safe and enjoy their adolescence."

"Bullying and dating violence are too important to ignore as risk factors for suicide -- the third leading cause of death in teens," Dr. Adesman said when asked about the important lesson from these studies.

Source: ScienceDaily