Bullying and Suicide

Does bullying contribute to youth suicide? It’s not as simple as you think, says a local expert.

Bullies have been lurking in school hallways and on playgrounds forever, and while bullying is nothing new, the places where it takes place have expanded online. In fact, dosomething.org notes that 37% of kids ages 12-17 have been victims of cyberbullying.

“More than half of my patients have had some bullying throughout their young lives,” Gigi Colombini, a psychotherapist and founder of the Institute for Hope and Human Flourishing, tells Metro Parent in its March/April 2023 article “Does Bullying Contribute to Youth Suicide?,” which is part of a special 2023 content series sponsored by the Flinn Foundation.

Bullying can still look the way it did years ago, such as being called names, pushing and being left out. No matter how the bullying happens (whether it’s in-person or online), it can seriously impact a child’s mental health.

But can it cause a child to commit suicide? Don’t be so quick to assume that, Colombini urges.

“It’s a risk factor. It’s not a warning sign,” Colombini says. “If somebody is already suicidal and then they start being bullied, the risk will increase because that’s another disempowerment, another stressor, another thing they feel hopeless about.”

Children who have been both the bully and the bullied are at the most risk in terms of suicide-related behavior.

If your child is bullying someone at school, start asking questions: What was going on inside of you? What can you do to help yourself feel better? You ultimately want them to strive to behave better.

When it comes to a child who is being bullied, keep an eye out for shifts in behavior, including acting out, not wanting to go to school, complaining of stomach aches and headaches to get out of class and more.

If you see any shifts, ask your child if there is anyone you’re having a hard time with. Listen, and then ultimately get in touch with the school. It’s essential to work together with your child’s school, Colombini says.

For even more insight and advice on how bullying impacts youth suicide, read the full article at MetroParent.com.