Bullying And Suicide: Where We Are And What Still Needs To Be Done

Trigger warning: this article contains sensitive content involving suicide.
A black and white rear shot of the back of a woman's head and back, with her head bowed down in sadness
Volkan Olmez / Unsplash

There has been a recent increase in suicide rates, especially among adolescents, that are related to bullying. Actually, there has also been an increase in children committing suicide with bullying as the common theme. Yes, I said children. There have been children as young as eight-years-old who hanged themselves. This is a serious and dangerous epidemic that demands our attention immediately.

What is bullying? There are many types of bullying but for purposes of this article, a broad definition of bullying will be used. Bullying involves unwanted and aggressive behavior that is persistent and involves real or perceived power imbalance.

Here are some both shocking and frightening statistics regarding bullying and suicide.

These statistics strongly suggest that there is a problem with bullying and at times, results in people taking their own lives. Here is a list of just a few of the tragic consequences of bullying that resulted in suicide.

June 2017: Mallory Grossman, 12-years-old. It is unknown how the The bullying was reported by parents on several occasions with no action taken. She was bullied and called names. She was also the victim of cyberbullying. It was reported to school officials and they were told it would be investigated but nothing ever came of it. Family spoke out and reported they were going to sue the school for not addressing the situation after it was reported.

December 2017: Rosalie Avila, 13-years-old. Suicide by hanging. She was bullied at school and online for her braces and would call her ugly. Also a victim of cyberbullying. Family reported plans to sue the school district as the school district was reported to have known about the verbal abuse Rosalie was victim to as well as her cutting behaviors.

January 2018: Sarah Ullman, 13-years-old. Overdosed on pills and was unable to be revived. She was bullied online (which was reported to be major) and at school. She was also bullied outside of school at places she went.

January 2018: Gabriella Green, 12-years-old. It has been ruled suicide by hanging. She did not report the bullying to anyone. Recently, police investigators have charged two preteens who were found to have been cyberbullying Gabriella up to the day of her death.

November 2017: Quentin Espinoza, 14-years-old. Death by suicide because of bullying. After the principal was shown two Instagram photos revealing Quentin was being bullied, the principal reported that he cannot confirm that the victim was being bullied.

November 2017: Ashawnty Davis, 10-years-old. Suicide by hanging. The victim was being bullied and after a confrontation between Ashawnty and the perpetrator was uploaded to an app called Musical.ly, the victim was devastated and hanged herself. Parents of the Ashawnty report that the school should have done more and intervened more than they had.

There are more victims than those stated above but this is a brief overview of the impact bullying in all forms has on victims. There seems to be a common theme surrounding victims of bullying, the school district and administration. How can you not “confirm” that a person was being bullied after being shown proof? Bullying usually isn’t a one time thing and more often than not, goes on for far too long.

So, what needs to be done in order to stop the increasing rate of bullying and suicide? Here’s a compiled list.

Parents need to monitor children’s social media activities. There are restrictions on cell phones and computers that can help.

School districts need to educate and provide training to employees about bullying of all forms.

School districts need to keep track and documentation of reported instances of bullying.

All employees in a school district need to remain objective and take every report of bullying serious, regardless of their values and/or beliefs.

Parents need to take their children’s allegations of bullying more seriously instead of brushing it off or saying it’ll get better.

There needs to be a part of the curriculum that educate students on the effects and consequences of bullying at an early age/grade.

School districts need to educate and train all employees on mental health and suicide and provide them with resources for those in need.

Parents need to be able to speak with other parents if there are reports of bullying and/or mental health or suicide related reports.

There needs to be a restriction on cell phones and social media while at school.

Monitor behaviors of children to determine differences that may indicate mental health or suicide. You can go to WebMD for more in depth information on signs and what to look for.

This is just a very brief list of possibilities for the future and in hopes of decreasing the prevalence of bullying and its relationship to suicide among children and adolescents. This short list is to promote awareness of the issue at hand and start a meaningful, productive and uncomfortable conversation that has been ignored for far too long.

While growing up, I was bullied both online and in school. Rumors were spread about me and people talked crap to me all of the time. I begged my mom and dad to let me stay home from school. It became so bad that I begged them to transfer me to a different school, but they didn’t. School administration did nothing. My parents and I went to meeting after meeting to discuss the bullying and nothing…NOTHING was ever done.

Unfortunately, so many young children and adolescents are not here today because the bullying became so horrendous and volatile that the only way to stop it from happening was to take their own life. Let that sink in. These poor victims of bullying who took their own lives literally felt there was no alternative other than to be gone for good.

This is a severe problem that doesn’t get enough attention and awareness. To be quite honest, the media doesn’t cover every single suicide related to bullying so I urge you to google the stories and find how often it happens and how many mourning families and friends there are in this world. To those who lost someone because of suicide related to bullying, you are in my thoughts and prayers and I will continue to fight for you in any way I can. TC mark

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