According to the World Health Organization (WHO) nearly a million people worldwide commit suicide each year. Out of that number, about 30,000 people reportedly kill themselves each year in the United States. Also, suicide has been found to be the third leading cause of death for people in the age ranges of 15-24.
Teenagers that experience being bullied are more inclined to perceive the emotional abuse given by bullies as something that will never go away.
Young people are much more likely to attempt to or commit suicide due to their inability to cope with a variety of factors they often find themselves unable to control.
One factor that makes teenagers feel helpless, hopeless, and defenceless is when they are bullied or harassed by others repeatedly. The emotional and mental turmoil that bullying causes its victims to experience gives these individuals a false perception that they have been permanently trapped by the abuse of their bully or bullies. Teenagers often have trouble seeing past the present situation at hand, so when they experience this type of extreme rejection by their peers, that bullies often influence, they are less inclined to view the abuse as a temporary situation.
Teenagers that experience being bullied are more inclined to perceive the emotional abuse given by bullies as something that will never go away. Teenage victims of bullying often do not realize that they will eventually graduate from high school; age and become an adult ; or that the bully will not be around to bully them always. Because many teenagers are unable to see past their current circumstance they are more inclined to see suicide as way of ending a temporary situation.
Teenagers that find themselves contemplating suicide, usually portray some warning signs prior to attempting to kill themselves. Even though most teens typically portray several warning signs, some teens may not potray any outward warning signs at all.
The warning signs that teens often show prior to committing suicide are:
- Withdrawal from friends and family members
- Difficulty getting along with others
- Unusual gift giving or giving away own possessions
- Dramatic personality changes
- Sleep disturbances
- Talk very negative about life or talking specifically about committing suicide
- Expressing (through verbal and non verbal signs) a sense of hopelessness
Although face to face bullying among teens at home and school can cause teens to turn to suicide as a way out or a way to end abuse; cyber-bullying can provoke teens to commit suicide as well. Cyberbulling is often more humiliating and traumatizing to teens victimized online, because perpetrators can easily post unwanted pictures, videos, and even share private information of their victim with hundreds to thousands of people online.
Social network sites that teens use to harass other teens are Face Book and My Space, for example. Teen’s also frequently post embarrassing videos of their victim on You Tube. Teens often use the You Tube website to post videos of their peers being physically assaulted, in order to humiliate their victims and entertain their peers.
When teens record and post such videos, the temporary humiliation that the victim experienced is then automatically extended and repeatedly relived when other teens watch and continue to remind the victim of the assault or how they failed to win a fight initiated by their aggressor. Such an experience often causes teens to contemplate suicide or even attempt to commit the act.
Often teens bully others online by spreading vicious rumors and by namecalling. Teenagers that already have low-self-esteem or suffer from depression are much more likely to contemplate suicide when they experience this type of harassment.
Teenage bullying can’t always be stopped or even prevented no matter how protective parents are or what anti-school bullying policies are implemented. But the rate of teenage suicide attempts can be prevented as parents and school administrations become more knowledgeable of warning signs that teens show when they are contemplating suicide.
Parents can detour teens they suspect are contemplating suicide by:
- Being willing to listen
- Being non-judgmental
- Seeking professional help immediately
- Finding activities, organizations , and hobbies that their teenagers can get involved in that will help keep their mind off being bullied and to develop self-esteem
- Reminding their teens of the positive aspects of their life and that the bullying is a phase that will end
I too was once a victim of teenage bullying and I understand what it feels like; to feel as if there is no way out. I know what it feels like to feel so hopeless until the concept of dying seems like a pathway to freedom out of the emotional abuse that had mentally enslaved me.
I also know what it felt like to have strong family support and be surrounded with people that cared about me. Had I not had proper support, a temporary unpleasant experience could have become a permanent tragedy. I survived, I lived and the bullies eventually disappeared. Had I committed suicide I would have died thinking that suicide was the only way to be free. I would not have come to know that eventually I would move on and my bullies would one day be all gone and I would become a feature writer for OvercomeBully.org.
Latricia Wilson is an OvercomeBullying.org feature writer. If you are an expert in a field related to bullying in school or the workplace and would like to contribute to our efforts and promote your website or services please contact us for more information.