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Worry: increasing “popularity” of bullycide?

November 9, 2010

Yesterday afternoon, when I wrote the post about Cassidy Andel, I thought we only had 30 bullying suicides that we knew of..that had been documented. This morning already it appears we have one more.  Just as it was last Spring, it’s feeling like “Another Day, Another Bullying Death.”

But this latest rash of deaths has me even more worried.  It appears that there are not only more of them, but they are coming in clusters. Maybe it’s because we are more sensitive to the issue and it’s more on the forefront of our minds, but I’m concerned we are starting to see this epidemic take on a different trend…

And that is, that the kids see these bullying suicides and think “Hey, that’s an easy way out for me. No one is doing anything to help me anyway, so this is a way to make the pain stop.”

I realize this topic has loads of potential for mis-interpretation so let me tread carefully and try to explain.  In many cases these kids have endured months, even years, of horrific bullying.  In some cases, it’s cyberbullying, in others it’s the low-tech kind.  And, I know that many experts will argue that these kids had some sort of underlying pathology (whether physiological or psychological/emotional) that already pre-disposed them to suicidal tendencies.  I’m not going to comment on that because I am not an expert in this area.

What I do know is that each of these young people felt powerless to stop the bullying, they felt they weren’t getting adequate help, and they had no expectation that it was going to get any better.

When these kids finally take steps to end the bullying — and their lives — the result is a kind of martyrdom. Their pictures are splashed in the media; often vigils are held in their memory.  Their deaths galvanize so many of us and there is significant widespread outcry about the horrific circumstances that brought us all to this place.

In no way do I mean this all to be conscious “publicity-seeking” on the parts of the victims, but it is a predictable aftermath of the suicide — particularly if the victim was “driven” to it by bullying. For the teen or younger child who thinks there’s nothing better left for them, perhaps they feel that “At least they’ll be sorry when I”m gone.”

I don’t want kids to see this as a way out.  I want them to know that we are working to keep them safe, to make this stop.  I don’t think that a message of “It Gets Better” is going to be of much solace to a child who is being mercilessly picked on or hounded to the point of suicide. They’ll look at our President and many other celebs who are saying “It Gets Better” and they’ll think “yeah, easy for YOU to say.”  And the reality is, “it” isn’t going to miraculously get better on its own.  The phrase itself is so passive — it implies that there’s no action required, that “it” will just somehow solve itself.

With 31 deaths (it’s likely already gone up as I write this), on the books already, we know “it” isn’t getting any better. The clock is ticking, and with it another child who is debating whether there’s any hope or if this is “all there is.”

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Kristy Holland permalink
    November 11, 2010 9:28 pm

    some of these kids have no real friends to turn to when they are being picked on to think about this hurts alot to think about the kids with no friends just people harrasing them

  2. Hyacinth Padua permalink
    November 23, 2010 9:04 pm

    Corinne, I’ve thought about this issue as well. I question whether the number of suicides has really increased or maybe all the media coverage of bullycides give the illusion that suicide rates have indeed gone up.

    I did a quick research about teen suicides, and this is what I found:
    In 2000, 8 out of every 100,000 people. (http://www.teendepression.org/articles1.html)
    In 2001, 9.9 out of every 100,000 (http://www.suicide.org/suicide-statistics.html)
    In 2004, 8.2 out of every 100,000 (http://www.yellodyno.com/Statistics/statistics_teen_suicides.html)

    So it seems that the number didn’t vary too much during a 10-year period. Ten years ago, when I was in high school, my health teacher told us that suicide was a major reason for teenage deaths. I was a bit surprised; why would many teenagers kill themselves.
    In retrospect, maybe the reason why teenagers committed suicide is because of bullying. However, 10 years ago, anti-bullying efforts were practically nonexistent eventhough bullying was very much rampant everywhere.
    It’s been ten years, and it took hundreds of bullycides to wake up this culture of cruelty to finalize realize that people need to learn to respect each other.

    • Corinne Gregory permalink*
      November 26, 2010 5:36 pm

      Overall, you are correct — the teen suicide rate itself has remained rather steady. However, the rate of youth taking their lives specificially attributed to bullying has, if not skyrocketed, the reporting of it has.

      Sadly, while the awareness of the bullying epidemic is extremely heightened, action is lagging behind. And that’s costing us lives every day.

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