An article in HealthDay.reported that a study found sharp rise in risk when kids face 7 or more types of victimization. The title of the article was “More Evidence Links Bullying, Abuse to Suicidal Thoughts in Youth”
Bullying is when a person or group repeatedly tries to harm someone who is weaker or who they think is weaker. Sometimes it involves direct attacks such as hitting, name calling, teasing or taunting. Sometimes it is indirect, such as spreading rumors or trying to make others reject someone.
Often people dismiss bullying among kids as a normal part of growing up. But bullying is harmful. It can lead children and teenagers to feel extreme anxiety, tense and afraid. It may lead them to avoid school. In severe cases, teens who are bullied may feel they need to take drastic measures or react violently. Others even consider suicide. For some, the effects of bullying last a lifetime.
The article went on to say that “children who are picked on by their classmates, abused or mistreated in other areas of their lives are more likely to think about killing themselves, The study went on to say that, more areas of a child’s life in which they are mistreated, the higher their risk of suicide.” These new findings, can be found online in the Oct. 22 in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. They reveal the troubling consequences of bullying and other forms of youth victimization.
In the study which included nearly 1,200 children and adolescents - aged 10 to 17, 4.3% said they had experienced suicidal thoughts -- known as suicidal ideation -- within only a month before meeting with the researchers. When compared to children who were not victimized, those who were bullied were more than twice as likely to think about killing themselves in the past year. The study also included youth who were sexually assaulted. They had 3.4 times the risk of thinking about suicide and “those who were maltreated had 4.4 times the risk of suicidal ideation during the past year.”
This same study showed that the kids at greatest risk were those who were exposed to seven or more types of victimization within a year’s time. These kids were almost six times more likely to report suicidal thoughts.
Dr. Heather Turner, professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire, in Durham said "Exposure to multiple forms of victimization is especially detrimental." She went on to say, "These kids may be exposed to crime and violence at home by witnessing their parents fighting and other types of domestic violence, and they may witness violence in their neighborhoods and be bullied on the Internet. These are kids that are clearly experiencing a huge amount of adversity in multiple areas of their lives." To catch at-risk kids, she said, "we need more of a holistic youth-centered approach."
Dr. Joseph Wright, a pediatrician at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. said the new research confirms what has been known and suspected about the consequences of youth victimization. "There is a real risk of suicidal ideation among kids who are victimized in multiple areas of their lives." Recent news stories have focused on high-profile bullying incidents with fatal consequences. But there's an even bigger picture as well. "Suicide is the tip of the iceberg, and this data shows us what is below the surface and that is very frightening,"
Dr. Victor Fornari, director of the division of child/adolescent psychiatry at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde Park, N.Y. tells us that suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents in the United States, according to background information included in the study. It's not always easy to tell which kids are thinking about suicide, said "Many youth who have suicidal thoughts do not appear sullen and, when asked, will deny it," he said. "When a child mentions killing themselves, we have to take it seriously. We don't know when they are serious or not unless it is evaluated."
Getting help for these kids is crucial, experts agree. If you think a child is being victimized, or thinking of hurting themselves, tell someone who is in a position of authority immediately. Do not wait. If you are having thoughts of hurting or killing yourself, tell someone you trust: a parent, friend, school guidance counselor or health care provider.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available around the clock at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255).
SOURCES: Joseph Wright, M.D., M.P.H., pediatrician, Children's National Medical Center, Washington, D.C.; Heather Turner, Ph.D., professor of sociology, University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H.; Victor Fornari, M.D., director, child/adolescent psychiatry, North Shore-LIJ Health System, New Hyde Park, N.Y.; Oct. 22, 2012, Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine online. HealthDay
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