There have been many high profile and tragic incidents in the media in recent years which have linked adolescent suicides to experiences with cyberbullying. The connection between suicide and interpersonal aggression is certainly nothing new, as a number of studies have documented the association between bullying and suicide. Sameer and I have a paper coming out in the coming months that explores the relationship between bullying (both traditional and cyber) and suicidal ideation and attempts. We find that those who experience bullying (and those who bully) report higher levels of suicidal ideation and are more likely to have attempted suicide.
Here is the abstract:
OBJECTIVE: Empirical studies and some high-profile anecdotal cases have demonstrated a link between suicidal ideation and experiences with bullying victimization or offending. The current study examines the extent to which a nontraditional form of peer aggression – cyberbullying – is also related to suicidal ideation among adolescents.
METHODS: In 2007, a random sample of 1,963 middle-schoolers from one of the largest school districts in the United States completed a survey of Internet use and experiences.
RESULTS: Youth who experienced traditional bullying or cyberbullying, as either an offender or a victim, had more suicidal thoughts and were more likely to attempt suicide than those who had not experienced such forms of peer aggression. Also, victimization was more strongly related to suicidal thoughts and behaviors than offending.
CONCLUSION: The findings provide further evidence that adolescent peer aggression must be taken seriously both at school and at home, and suggest that a suicide prevention and intervention component is essential within comprehensive bullying response programs implemented in schools.
This research provides additional reasons not to ignore even minor forms of bullying and cyberbullying as they can easily escalate and create long-term and disastrous consequences for those involved. We have a fact sheet that summarizes the findings in this paper which is available here. As soon as the full article has been published, we will link to it on this site.