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Domestic Violence, Bullying, and Suicide: Not As Rare As You Might Think

Domestic Violence, Bullying, and Suicide: Not As Rare As You Might Think

More and more, we see the connection between domestic violence and other crimes. Unfortunately, domestic violence has spillover effect for mental health problems too. As National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month concludes and October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Bullying Prevention Month begins; consider how the two tragedies intertwine.
Still a taboo topic of discussion, suicidal thoughts and suicide occur too frequently without any resource for those suffering to get help. In many cases the loved ones affected by suicide are left in the dark, feeling shame or stigma that prevents talking openly about issues dealing with suicide. Shame and stigma are also some of the same reasons domestic violence victims suffer in silence. Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background just as domestic violence can affect anyone from any background. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among young people and is often the result of mental health conditions that effect people when they are most vulnerable.
With the prevalence of depression and other mental health illnesses in domestic violence and bullying victims, it comes as no surprise studies show that a large percentage of all suicide victims have been domestic violence victims as well. It is unclear if the connection between domestic violence and suicide is because traumatic stress is considered to be a major cause to depression and suicidal ideation or if because people with depression and mental illness are more vulnerable to being in abusive relationships. Whatever the cause, there is help.
In recent years, a series of bullying-related suicides in the US and across the globe have drawn attention to the connection between bullying and suicide. Though too many adults still see bullying as “just part of being a kid,” it is a serious problem that leads to many negative effects for victims, including suicide.
The statistics on bullying and suicide are alarming:
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14% of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7% have attempted it.
  • Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University
  • 10-14 year old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide, according to the study above
  • According to statistics reported by ABC News, nearly 30% of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying
Bully-related suicide can be connected to any type of bullying, including physical bullying, emotional bullying, cyberbullying, and sexting, or circulating suggestive or nude photos or messages about a person.
Some schools or regions have more serious problems with bullying and suicide related to bullying. This may be due to an excessive problem with bullying at the school. It could also be related to the tendency of students who are exposed to suicide to consider suicide themselves.
Some of the warning signs of suicide can include:
  • Showing signs of depression, like ongoing sadness, withdrawal from others, losing interest in favorite activities, or trouble sleeping or eating
  • Talking about or showing an interest in death or dying
  • Engaging in dangerous or harmful activities, including reckless behavior, substance abuse, or self injury
  • Giving away favorite possessions and saying goodbye to people
  • Saying or expressing that they can’t handle things anymore
  • Making comments that things would be better without them
If a person is displaying these symptoms, talk to them about your concerns and get them help right away, such as from a counselor, doctor, or at the emergency room.
In some cases, it may not be obvious that a teen is thinking about suicide, such as when the suicide seems to be triggered by a particularly bad episode of bullying. In several cases where bullying victims killed themselves, bullies had told the teen that he or she should kill him or herself or that the world would be better without them. Others who hear these types of statements should be quick to stop them and explain to the victim that the bully is wrong.
Other ways to help people who may be considering suicide include:
  • Take all talk or threats of suicide seriously. Don’t tell the person they are wrong or that they have a lot to live for. Instead, get them immediate medical help.
  • Keep weapons and medications away from anyone who is at risk for suicide. Get these items out of the house or at least securely locked up.
  • Encourage youths to talk about bullying. It may be embarrassing for kids to admit they are the victims of bullying, and most kids don’t want to admit they have been involved in bullying. Tell victims that it’s not their fault that they are being bullied and show them love and support.
  • Insist on being included in their children’s friends on social networking sites so they can see if someone has posted mean messages about them online.
  • Parents who see a serious bullying problem should talk to school authorities about it, and perhaps arrange a meeting with the bully’s parents. Nevada has laws against bullying, and recent lawsuits against schools and criminal charges against bullies show that there are legal avenues to take to deal with bullies. If school authorities don’t help with an ongoing bullying problem, local police or attorneys may be able to.
Anyone thinking about suicide should talk to someone right away. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1‐800‐273‐8255 and if you or someone you know is being abused, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1‐800‐799‐7233. For text assistance with either issue, text “GO” to 741741. If you or someone you know needs help with bullying in Nevada call 1-775-689-0150 Or text STANDUP to 839863. For more resources, you may visit our site at or contact us at 775-722-4564 or 775-304-8964. Assistance is free and confidential at all these resources.
Article information from Rebecca Baven and Kayce Simmons Munyeneh and used with permission.

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