Bullying and Suicide

It is important to remember that most students who are involved in bullying do not become suicidal.  While studies have shown that young people who are bullied and those who bully others are at heightened risk for suicidal behavior, youth who exhibit both pre-existing risk for suicide (namely the existence of depression, anxiety, substance use or other mental disorders) and who are concurrently involved in bullying or experiencing other negative life events are at highest risk.  Individuals who are bullied in the absence of other risk factors have far fewer negative outcomes than those with pre-existing risk for suicide.

It is imperative to convey safe and accurate messages about bullying and suicide, especially to those young people who may be at risk for completing suicide.  Suggesting that suicide is a natural response to bullying, or providing repeated opportunities for at-risk students to see their own experiences of bullying, isolation, or exclusion reflected in stories of those who have died by suicide, can increase contagion risk by contributing to thoughts that frame suicide as a solution to problems currently being experienced.

Whenever possible, discussions on bullying and suicide should center on prevention and encourage help-seeking behavior.