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Suicide and Bullying

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center has released, “Suicide and Bullying,” a brief on the relationship between bullying and suicide, especially as it relates to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered youth. The brief describes the extent of the problem and identifies strategies for bullying and suicide prevention.

In addition, action steps may help create synergy in addressing both suicide and bullying:

• Start prevention early. Bullying begins at an age before many of the warning signs of suicide are evident. Intervening in bullying among younger children, and assessing both bullies and victims of bullying for risk factors associated with suicide, may have significant benefits as children enter the developmental stage when suicide risk begins to rise.

• Keep up with technology. Bullying often takes place in areas hidden from adult supervision. Cy­berspace has become such an area. At the same time, young people may also use social media and new technologies to express suicidal thoughts that they are unwilling to share with their parents and other adults. Both bullying prevention programs and suicide prevention programs need to learn how to navigate in this new world.

• Pay special attention to the needs of LGBT youth and young people who do not conform to gender expectations. These youth are at increased risk for both bullying victimization and suicidal behavior. It is essential to respond to the needs of these young people, especially the need for an environment in which they feel safe, not just from physical harm, but from intolerance and assaults upon their emotional well-being.

• Use a comprehensive approach. Reducing the risk of bullying and suicide requires interventions that focus on young people (e.g., mental health services for youth suffering from depression) as well as the environment (especially the school and family environments) in which they live.

The complete brief is free and available online at: Suicide and Bullying
Issue Brief