Are bullies at a greater risk for suicidal thoughts?
A recent review of findings from a variety of studies focusing on bullying found that not only victims of bullying are at risk for suicidal thoughts but also the bullies themselves. The review, which was conducted by a group of researchers at Yale School of Medicine and published in the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, analyzed research on bullying from 13 different countries including the US, Canada, some European countries, Japan, South Africa and South Korea. According to the findings, a child bully may be at two to nine times higher risk for suicide. Commenting, Dr. Young-Shin Kim, lead author and assistant professor at Yale School of Medicine’s Child Study Center, said, “While there is no definitive evidence that bullying makes kids more likely to kill themselves, now that we see there’s a likely association, we can act on it and try to prevent it.” The following is an excerpt of an article from the New York Times that reviews the findings:
Bullying tormentors also are at risk. Compared to other kids, a child who bullies may be at two to nine times higher risk for suicide, according to the study. Girl bullies appear to be at highest risk. Some researchers have also found a “dose-response” relationship, showing that those who bully more frequently are at highest risk for suicide.
While the studies showed an association with bullying and suicide, it wasn’t clear whether the behavior actually increases risk for suicide or whether kids already at risk for suicide are more likely to become bullies or their victims. The researchers noted that most of the studies failed to take into account the influence of factors like gender, psychiatric problems and a history of suicide attempts.
According to international studies, bullying is common and affects anywhere from 9 percent to 54 percent of children.
Pastoral Action Point: As we all know, Jesus taught us that the great commandment is to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourself. Studies such as this one really highlight the consequences associated with being unkind to others and should fortify the reasoning behind the great commandment to love.