Bullycide: Suicide as a Result of Bullying

While it is now well known that bullying is very damaging to its victims, it is still not generally considered to be a serious issue. Throughout time immemorial victims have been told to "toughen up," "stop whining," to "get a thicker skin" or to “fight...

  • There are approximately 2.1 million bullies and 2.7 million of their victims in American schools.
  • 1 in every 7 students in grades K-12 is either a bully or a victim of bullying.
  • 282,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools each month.
  • 56% of students have personally witnessed some type of bullying at school.
  • 90% of 4th-8th graders report being victims of bullying
  • 40% of bullied students are students with disabilities.
  • In 85% of bullying cases, no intervention or effort is made by a teacher or administration member of the school to stop the bullying from taking place.
  • Revenge is the strongest motivation for school shootings. Harassment and bullying have been linked to 75% of school-shooting incidents.
  • 1 out of 20 students has seen a student with a gun at school.
  • 160,000 children miss school every day due to the fear of being bullied.
  • 15% of all school absenteeism is directly related to fears of being bullied at school

These numbers continue to rise every month.

Cyber-bullying Statistics:

  • 80% of all high school students report having been bullied in some manner online.
  • 35% of teens report having been actually threatened online.
  • ½ of all teens admit they have said something mean or hurtful to another teen online; most have done it more than once.
  • Less than 20% of cyber-bullying incidents are reported to law enforcement.


There are clearly no easy solutions to stop bullying during the school age years.  Prevention is obviously the key factor.  It is essential to look for warning signs that an individual is a victim of bullying.  It is also crucial to identify the signals that a person is a bully and causing physical and/or emotional harm.  Know that the big, mean boy on the playground isn't the only type of bully anymore. There are many types of bullies: boys and girls; children to teens, and all ages to adults in authority positions.

Warning signs that a child/adolescent is a victim of bullying include:

  • Unexplained injuries and/or damaged/missing clothing or other belongings
  • Change in eating habits
  • Makes excuses not to go to school
  • Loss of friends
  • Verbalizes feelings of helpless/hopeless
  • Talks about suicide
  • Acts out of character
  • Avoids certain places or is afraid to play outside alone
  • Feels inadequate
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Inappropriate self-blame

Warning signs that a child/adolescent is a perpetrator of bullying include:

  • Becomes frequently violent
  • Has difficulty controlling anger
  • Is manipulative and controlling of others and situations
  • Consistently blames others
  • Refuses to accept responsibility for his/her actions
  • Exceedingly competitive; needs to win or be the best

Research has demonstrated that bullying others can be a signal for the potential to engage in other serious antisocial and violent behaviors. Children and youth who frequently bully their peers are more likely than others to fight, vandalize property, steal, drink, use drugs, be truant, drop out of school, and carry a weapon.  Statistically, they are four times more likely than non-bullies to be convicted of crimes by age 24, with 60% of bullies having at least one criminal conviction.

The big question is what can you do to protect yourself or a loved one if you are a parent or victim of bullying? First of all, know the warning signs.  Talk to your parents; talk to your kids.  Save all cyber-bullying messages/texts/posts as proof that the bullying is occurring.  Also, keep a journal of every instance of maltreatment.  If the bullying is happening at school (or is school-related) share this evidence with a teacher, counselor or even the principal. If the matter is not resolved from there, take the situation to the school board and to the police to ensure a resolution.  Acts of violence, real threats, vandalism, property damage, theft, and any bullying that is sexual in nature should be reported to law enforcement as soon as possible for criminal investigation.  

Anti-Bullying Laws

Anti-bullying laws aim to prevent bullying, address it when it happens, or both. Forty eight states in the United States have passed school anti-bullying legislation (Montana and South Dakota have not). These laws are frequently in a state of change.

Bullying laws usually focus on schools, which are the site of a large amount of bullying behavior.  These laws are inconsistent state to state.  Current state laws may or may not criminalize bullying; others prefer to keep the management of bullying between schools and families, rather than the courts.  Most laws require that school personnel who witness acts of bullying report the same.  They also establish responses to reports of bullying that include investigation, imposition of disciplinary measures, notification for parents, and support and counseling of targets.

There are no current national laws related to bullying, but they have been suggested. The actual need for anti-bully laws however remains controversial. Will specific legislation aimed at bullying really add anything new to existing laws related to harassment, safety, violence, hatred, and destruction of property?

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