Bullying, suicide among school kids linked

July 18th, 2008 - 4:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 18 (IANS) Researchers have uncovered a link between bullying, being bullied and suicide in children based on review of studies from 13 countries. “While there is no definitive evidence that bullying makes kids more likely to kill themselves, now we see there’s a likely association,” said review co-author Young-Shin Kim, assistant professor at Yale School of Medicine.

Kim and colleague Bennett Leventhal, analysed 37 studies that examined bullying and suicide among children and adolescents from US, Canada, UK, Germany, South Korea, Japan and South Africa.

Almost all of the studies found connections between being bullied and suicidal thoughts among children. Five reported that bullying victims were two to nine times more likely to report suicidal thoughts than other children were.

Even “the perpetrators who are the bullies also have an increased risk for suicidal behaviours,” Kim said.

However, the way the studies were designed made it impossible for researchers to determine conclusively whether bullying leads to suicide, Kim said.

Besides, the authors report that most of the studies failed to take into account the influence of factors like gender, psychiatric problems and a history of suicide attempts.

Kim said her interest in bullying grew several years ago when she visited South Korea and heard several new slang terms referring to bullies and their victims. The words reflected “an elaborated system of bullying,” she said.

According to international studies, bullying is common and affects anywhere from 9 percent to 54 percent of children. In the United States, many have blamed bullying for spurring acts of violence, including the Columbine High School massacre.

In the United States, many adults scoff at bullying and say, “oh, that’s what happens when kids are growing up,” according to Kim, who argues that bullying is serious and causes major problems for children.

These findings have been published in International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health.

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