Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Study Assesses Role of Bullying in Teen Suicides

Cyberbullying—the use of the Internet, phones, or other technologies to repeatedly harass or mistreat peers—is often linked with teen suicide in media reports. However, new research presented earlier this week at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference in New Orleans, shows that the reality is more complex. Most teen suicide victims are bullied both online and in school, and many suicide victims also suffer from depression.

Researchers identified 41 suicide cases (24 female, 17 male, ages 13 to 18), 24 percent of whom were the victims of homophobic bullying, including the 12 percent of teens identified as homosexual and another 12 percent who were identified as heterosexual or of unknown sexual orientation. "Cyberbullying is a factor in some suicides, but almost always there are other factors such as mental illness or face-to-face bullying," said study author John LeBlanc, M.D., M.Sc., an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. "Cyberbullying usually occurs in the context of regular bullying." Leblanc said that certain social media, by allowing anonymity, may encourage cyberbullying, but he acknowledged that because of the complex issues involved, it's "difficult to prove a cause-and-effect relationship."

Teenage victims often find it difficult to escape cyberbullying, however.

Read more about this issue in Psychiatric News here.

(Image: Sylvie Bouchard/Shutterstock.com)


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.