A number of teen suicides are being blamed on bullying, as kids are crumbling under the hate-filled actions of classmates. We need to find a way to stop teen bullying, and identify and provide help for those who are suffering with mental health issues from bullying.
Effects of Bullying
The headlines are numerous; kids are taking their own lives because they are hated and picked on by classmates. Bullies have been around forever, but their actions seem to be having a bigger impact on people today than ever before. Maybe kids are more sensitive or the bullies are getting bolder. Most likely, bullying is worse today because it can occur in so many different ways – Internet, texts, etc.- and it is much easier to ruin someone’s reputation using these means. Bullying causes anxiety and depression among the victims, it causes their grades to fall, it causes drug and alcohol abuse, and in extreme cases, it leads to things like school shootings and suicides.
Even after a suicide has taken place, though, it is hard to pin down who said what to a bullied victim. Police are investigating a number of these cases, but they often have a hard time finding concrete evidence that classmates did something bad enough to result in suicide. As one sheriff who is investigating some allegations of bullying, said, “we haven’t uncovered anything so severe that it would result in someone taking their own life.” (1)
Parents, Be Aware
Parents often wonder what they can do to protect their child. A number of states, such as Washington, are working on anti-bullying legislation that would protect students. Authorities and school officials encourage parents to look into every claim of bullying their child makes. “When there are reports, they’re looked at,” said Carol Fenstermacher, director of community relations at Evergreen School District in Washington. “We call kids in, and we talk to them. It was disturbing to hear family members saying, ‘We didn’t call the school.’ Please do. If you fear retaliation, do it anonymously, because it’s still going to be checked out.” (2)
Most importantly, parents need to be aware of their child’s feelings and activities and be ready to get them help if needed. “If your child is extremely upset, it’s OK to ask them if they have any thought about killing themselves,” Dr. Gail Saltz said. “Parents often don’t want to bring it up, they don’t want to think about it, and they think they might be suggesting something to a child that they haven’t thought of already. But that’s really a myth. You need to get them immediate help, immediate evaluation, because children, unlike adults, can look depressed one moment and happy and OK the next. So it’s hard to detect when they are actually depressed. They can be impulsive and act on something too soon.” (1)