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Bullying and Suicide Prevention

Updated: Sep 12, 2019

Scholarly articles attest there is a relationship between bullying and depression and that this relationship may help to explain the relationship between bullying and suicide. Espelage and Holt’s (2013) surmised the connections between middle school students, suicidal ideation and attempts were significantly more prevalent among victims, bully-victims and perpetrators, with rates of ideation and attempts among those involved as a victim, perpetrator, or bully-victims three to five times higher than the rate of uninvolved youth. Similarly, Borowsky’s (2013) study of 6th, 9th, and 12th graders, 1.2% of uninvolved youth made a suicide attempt, compared with 5% for those who frequently bullied others verbally or socially; 6.5% for those who were frequent victims of verbal/social bullying; and 11.1% for those who were frequent bully-victims of verbal/social bullying.

Kowalski and Limber’s (2013) conclude that depression, anxiety, self-esteem, self-reported health problems, absences from school, leaving school because of illness, and grades were, with only one exception, significantly related to students’ involvement in cyber-bullying others, being cyber-bullied, bullying others through traditional means, and being bullied through traditional means. Those who witness bullying but are not directly involved are also at increased risk. Rivers and Noret (2013) report that students who observed bullying behavior were significantly more likely than those uninvolved in bullying to report symptoms of interpersonal sensitivity (feelings of being hurt and feelings of inferiority) and greater helplessness.

Perceived parent and family connectedness, caring relationships with nonparental adults, school connectedness, academic achievement, and perceived safety at school are important protective factors against adolescent suicide attempts. Primary prevention of bullying is essential for preventing suicidal thinking and behavior, as well as other psychosocial problems among adolescents. Borowksy’s findings regarding connection to parents, other adults, school, and friends reflect the need for multiple strategies that focus on both the school and home environments and that move beyond the individual skill-building level to foster supportive environments.

IINII uses a revolutionary Design Thinking process to help your school community craft and implement a customized bullying prevention model that centers on gaining an understanding of one’s sense of self, as well as developing an understanding of students’ values; having an understanding of one’s values matters because research has shown that it is linked to better well-being, less stress, and increased confidence in one’s ability to succeed.

Understanding students’ values can be developed with culturally sustaining practices that reflect a student’s identity and experience. Particularly helpful is focusing efforts on cultural competence and relevance and providing opportunities for students to practice bridging differences between diverse identities in a safe environment. To learn how you can create a dynamic youth-centered environment, visit our website at, or contact us at or 1800-507-2502.

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