Another story has surfaced where a teen committed suicide after experiencing bullying. The Chicago Tribune reports that Iain Steele, a 15-year-old boy from a western suburb of Chicago, hung himself in the basement of his home. This case, like many others, illustrates the omnipresent nature of adolescent bullying in the 21st century. Iain was bullied at school and online and really had nowhere to go to escape the torment.
Is it just me or are the facts of these kinds of tragedies eerily similar? In most of the bullycide or “cyberbullicide” cases that we are aware of, the story is often the same: a troubled teen who is taking medication for mental health issues is harassed by peers to the point of suicide. Many times a romantic relationship gone bad is also part of the equation. Schools and parents usually know that something is going on, but don’t know what to do to help. In some cases parents take some initial steps to try to rectify the situation (by meeting with school administrators or having doctors evaluate their children), but the bullying continues.
As the article points out, the link between adolescent bullying and suicide is very clear. Youth who are victims of bullying, and also those who bully, are at a higher risk for suicidal thoughts and attempts. Sameer and I have an article under review that extends that relationship to cyberbullying incidents. It’s yet another reason to take all forms of bullying seriously and to hold bullies accountable and provide support for targets. And yes, it is YOUR responsibility.