The Relationship Between Cyberbullying and Suicide


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.


  1. I like your website very much and have found it very informative in the case of what my daughter is going through. The bullying and sexual harrassment has not only been in her school against her for 3 years but now the whole gang has decided to take it to the internet with Facebook and Myspace. I have contacted both websites to ask that they disable their accounts and I was told no they haven't violated their Terms of Agreement. Well I know they clearly have and it is frustrating. My daughter has received threats against her and we refused as of Tuesday last week we were pulling her out of school until they did something with the girl and her possy. We have had to go and get a No Contact order against the main girl because it has gotten so bad. And all this time the schools have known full well what has been going on and done absolutely nothing. We have already sought legal counsel on the no contact order for our daughter and have told the school they have exactly till end of school on Monday to give us an answer as to what they are going to do with the girl. Mind you it has been a week and no one involved has been given any detentions, ISS, suspension or expulsion but that isn't surprising considering nothing was done all the times my daughter went to teachers, admin and the like about the situation. If we do not have an answer by end of day Monday we are going forth with our lawsuit under Title IX because my daughter is being denied the right to learn and get an educaton in a safe environment.

    • im 12 years old in sixth grade i feal bad for u and your dauter THAT ISENT RIGHT no wan should be treated like that i hope some thing is done god bless u 🙂

  2. I agree with Lori. Great website, and very informative post. I highly respect the fact you are offering information that will actually benefit teachers and parents in educating youth.

    To be honest I'm intrigued and very interested in working with you. Please contact me by email as soon as you can.

    Either way, keep up the great work!

  3. Great articles! I have an essay contest coming up and I was wondering if you guys can help me with it. Its about cyberbullying and if we should make a law banning it here(not saying location YET). email me back please.

  4. In traditional bullying instances, boys are more often involved than girls. The same is not so for spreading rumors and indirect harassment, which are forms of bullying which girls take part in more readily. Cyberbullying has similar characteristics and therefore is similarly appealing so it is reasonable to assume (as studies show) that girls, just as boys participate.

    Emotional and behavioral consequences can become serious, as troubled adolescents can act out in school or can exhibit avoidance behavior, among other problems. Seattle Police Department Detective Malinda Wilson states, “the internet and puberty do not mix.” That seems the perfect way to state that adolescents have enough going on just being adolescents; once a situation is exacerbated by internet harassment, sometimes it is simply too much to bear, as in the tragic instances of Ryan Halligan, Jeffrey Johnston, Rachael Neblett and Megan Meier which resulted in their suicides.

  5. Although cyberbullying occurs in a virtual environment the consequences of its victimization are affected terribly. The outcome of cyberbullying can be emotional, psychological and behavioral. On page 63 a research conducted reported that victims often feels sad, anxious, and having lower self-esteem than those who are not victimized. Victims of cyberbullying and traditional bullying respond very similar in terms of emotional consequences. An illustrative chart in page 63 shows the different emotions of cyberbullying victims and the emotions are angry, frustrated, sad, embarrassed, scared and was not bothered. Most female victims felt angry and frustrated and most males felt not bothered and angry as a result of cyberbullying. I understand the statistics of females because females are more emotional than males that’s why sometimes things like cyberbullying emotions can destroy our happiness and from a blink of an eye commit suicide.

    Delinquency and interpersonal violence can also be the result of the negative emotions given by cyberbullying. Cyberbullying not just destroys once life but can influence to the surroundings like an example given on page 63 “If a victim feels scared about going to school because of cyberbullying, he may be tempted to bring a weapon to school for protection” or victims may feel like hurting themselves to maybe not go to school anymore or just to end the humiliation. Like said another outcome of bullying or cyberbullying is “cyberbullicide”. In recent years has been the increase in suicides related to bullying. In 2004 suicide was the third-leading cause of deaths among people between the ages of 10 and 24. Ryan Halligan was one of them a 13 year old boy who committed suicide because he was bullied by his adolescent crush and humiliated in front of the whole school. Like the story of Ryan Halligan there are thousands out there with similar stories. I can’t imagine the pain of their parents and knowing that as a parent you couldn’t save your child’s life. Here is a video of Ryan’s father trying to make a difference.

  6. I think a lot more kids get bullied than most people think. It's just the extreme cases that get reported because the child goes as far as to commit suicide or hurt others. Kids do things such as skipping school, dropping out, running away from home, etc but most parents don't automatically link the problem to bullying. It normally gets linked to other problems that may be going on in the kids life. In other words signs maybe there but parents just don't connect the dots. It's true kids can be cruel and adults may see it as "the rite of passage" but now with technology not only do certain kids get picked on at school but also at home whether it be through IM's, Facebook, or text messages. Yes they could log off and not read the mean things being said but it becomes some sort of obsession.

    The problem of bullying should be addressed as early as elementary school and parents need to understand the technological world and what role their child can play in it. The problem can start as early as kindergarten and progress well into high school. Most parents get caught up in thinking that kids will be kids but if they didn't grow up in a world where computers and cell phones were part of everyday life they may not understand how it can affect their child.

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