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Bullying and Suicide

Bullying and Suicide Research indicates that persistent bullying can lead to or worsen feelings of isolation, rejection, exclusion, and despair. It can potentially lead to depression and anxiety, which can contribute to suicidal thoughts and behavior. All youth who are bullied do not contemplate, attempt, or commit suicide. However, youth who suffer from depression are at a higher risk for suicide, as well as youth who are both a victim and a bully (Klomek,et al., 2011).

Suicide-related behavior is complicated and rarely the result of a single source or incident of bullying. Youth who are at an increased risk for suicide-related behaviors are dealing with a complex combination of stressors like:

  • being bullied/harassed
  • emotional distress
  • exposure to violence
  • family conflict
  • relationship problems
  • lack of connectedness to school/sense of supportive school environment
  • alcohol and drug use
  • physical disabilities/learning differences
  • minimal access to resources/support.

It is important to recognize some of the warning signs so that you can help:

  • Depression (daily sadness, withdrawal from others, losing interest in favorite activities, trouble sleeping or eating)
  • Making comments that things would be better without them
  • Talking about or showing an interest in death or dying
  • Engaging in dangerous or harmful activities (self-harm, reckless behavior, drug and alcohol abuse)
  • Giving away favorite possessing and saying “goodbye” to people
  • Saying that they “can’t handle things anymore” or “things will never get better”
  • Internet posts that talk about extreme emotional pain, despair, or suicide

If someone is showing any of the warning signs it is important that you:

  • Take it seriously.
  • Tell them that you are concerned and get them help right away. Go to the emergency room, call a hotline such as 1-800-273-TALK (8255), get them an appointment with a counselor who specializes in suicide so that they get the help they need.
  • Talk with them and check-in on them consistently so that they are not isolated or feel alone.
  • Create as much structure as possible, limit downtime or alone time.
  • Avoid using guilt statements like "Don't you want to live for your family?" Instead focus on what is at the root of the pain and hopelessness.
  • Keep weapons, medications, razors, poisonous substances out of reach.

Alabama Suicide Hotlines and Centers


Cadarerelli, N. Bullying and Suicide: Unraveling the Link. A Presentation by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Retrieved October 21, 2012 from education.state.nm.us.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (2004). The relationship between bullying and suicide: What we know and what it means for schools. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/bullying-suicide-translation-final-a.pdf

Klomek, A.B. et al. (2011). High school bullying as a risk for later depression and suicidality. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 41(5): 501-516.