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Guest Blog – “Every day is worth living”

January 28, 2011

I had the amazing fortune to receive this from Christopher Burgess this morning.  Not only am I very lucky to have this piece from him to share with you, I would also like to make this the “unofficial” announcement that he has joined SocialSmarts‘ Board of Advisors.  This is compelling and I encourage you to read and share with anyone who is concerned with the lives of our children.

—-

Do you ever delve into a stack of statistics and just find yourself mesmerized by the data, data that shocks your inner core?  I had that happen to me recently as I was doing some fact checking surrounding instances of children committing suicide, specifically children who were bullied into suicide by others (both adults and children).  I concluded, we lose too many precious children to “bullyicide.”

According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) a person dies of suicide about every 15 minutes or approximately 96 people take their own life each day.  Sadly, for every person who succeeds, there have been between 8 and 25 failed attempts.  That math works out to approximately 800 to 2400 attempted suicides in the United States each day. 

Looking solely at the numbers for youth between the ages of 5 and 19 we see that right around age 10, suicide moves up to the third leading cause of death (See table 1).  Sadly, according to the NSPL, the suicide rate amongst young people has more than doubled over the past two decades.

   Rank       Ages 5-9     Ages 10-14       Ages 15-19
1 Unintentional Injury
1,072
Unintentional Injury
1,343
Unintentional Injury
6,616
2 Malignant Neoplasms
485
Malignant Neoplasms
515
Homicide
2,076
3 Congenital Anomalies
196
Suicide
270
Suicide
1,613
4 Homicide
121
Homicide
220
Malignant Neoplasms
731
5 Heart Disease
106
Congenital Anomalies
200
Heart Disease
389

Table 1: Leading Cause of Death of Children

Digging a bit deeper into the available information, I wanted to know where, geographically, suicides were occurring.  I was startled.  No state is exempt.  According to the National Center for Health Statistics, based on 2007 data (the most recent), the top ten states are:   Alaska, Montana, New Mexico, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, West Virginia, Arizona, Oregon and Kentucky based on the number of suicides per 100,000 of population.   (See table two)

I then started digging to see if the statistics would tell me how many of these were the result of bullying? My digging found that in 2010, I was able to confirm 30 cases of suicide which the family, friends, or authorities attributed to bullying.  The age of the children ranged from 9-19 years of age (9-1, 10-0, 11-2, 12-2, 13-3, 14-4, 15-6, 16-2, 17-5, 18-2 and 19-3).   I also found that the vast majority of these suicides were at the first and last thirds of the traditional school year (16 suicides Sep-Nov and 10 suicides Mar-May).  Perhaps this is coincidence how the frequency of bullycide coincides with the academic school year.  (For additional reading see: Bullycide, the end result of cyberbullying and Bullycide: My Time Has Come So Now I’m Gone )

I think you would agree that given the alignment between school year and children being bullied into suicide that an individual investment in educating and making all concerned aware of the realities is warranted.  

Allow me to call you to action:

  • Encourage your children to accept who they are, and be all they can be with the capabilities given to them.
  • Direct our young on appropriate use of the Internet as a tool of collaboration, knowledge sharing and commerce, and not as a tool of hate.
  • Make it your business to know and understand the many ways in which your child is engaging online and communicating – Smartphone, laptop, Xbox or Wii and where: your house, your neighbors, the library, etc.  Then monitor this activity.  I’ve often said, it is not espionage to know who and what your child is being exposed to online or via any other communications medium.
  • Teach your young how to cope when overwhelmed.
  • Ensure your child understands mistakes are universal, and unless it stops the sun from rising in the morn, you and they can work through the error.
  • Show your child how to report and confront bullying and call it out as wrong. Show them how to do this in a non-confrontational, but direct manner.  To be a silent witness is to endorse the action.

If we are able to collectively work together, we can save a life, we can save many lives and in doing so we will demonstrate to the children, every day is worth living.

Rank State (2006 rank) Number of Suicides Population Rate
1 Alaska (3) 149 681,111 21.8
2 Montana (2) 196 956,624 20.5
3 New Mexico (5) 401 1,964,402 20.4
4 Wyoming (1) 101 523,252 19.3
5 Nevada (4) 471 2,554,344 18.4
6 Colorado (9) 811 4,842,770 16.7
7 West Virginia (12) 300 1,809,836 16.6
8 Arizona (6T) 1,016 6,353,421 16.0
9 Oregon (8) 594 3,735,549 15.9
10 Kentucky (13) 649 4,236,308 15.3
11 Idaho (10) 223 1,496,145 14.9
11 North Dakota (15) 95 637,904 14.9
13 Oklahoma (11) 531 3,608,123 14.7
14 Maine (27T) 191 1,315,398 14.5
15 Utah (16) 378 2,668,925 14.3
15 Vermont (21T) 89 620,748 14.3
17 Arkansas (20) 402 2,830,557 14.2
17 Florida (19) 2,587 18,199,526 14.2
19 Kansas (17) 382 2,777,382 13.8
20 Missouri (18) 808 5,878,399 13.7
20 Tennessee (14) 844 6,149,116 13.7
22 Mississippi (36T) 396 2,921,030 13.6
23 Washington (23) 865 6,449,511 13.4
24 Wisconsin (27T) 729 5,598,893 13.0
25 Alabama (24) 592 4,626,595 12.8
25 South Dakota (6T) 102 795,689 12.8
27 Indiana (21T) 790 6,335,862 12.5
28 Louisiana (29T) 522 4,373,310 12.2
29 New Hampshire (31T) 158 1,312,256 12.0
29 South Carolina (26) 530 4,404,914 12.0
31 North Carolina (25) 1,077 9,041,594 11.9
32 Pennsylvania (34T) 1,441 12,419,930 11.6
33 Virginia (31T) 880 7,698,775 11.4
34 Ohio (29T) 1,295 11,477,641 11.3
35 Michigan (34T) 1,131 10,049,790 11.2
36 Delaware (39) 95 861,953 11.0
36 Minnesota (38) 572 5,182,360 11.0
38 Iowa (36T) 322 2,983,360 10.8
39 Georgia (41) 997 9,523,297 10.4
39 Hawaii (42) 133 1,277,356 10.4
41 Nebraska (31T) 181 1,769,473 10.2
41 Texas (40) 2,433 23,843,432 10.2
43 California (43) 3,602 36,377,534 9.9
44 Maryland (44) 518 5,618,899 9.2
45 Rhode Island (45) 96 1,053,136 9.1
46 Illinois (47) 1,108 12,825,809 8.6
47 Massachusetts (48) 516 6,467,915 8.0
48 Connecticut (46) 271 3,489,868 7.7
49 New York (49) 1,396 19,429,316 7.2
50 New Jersey (50) 596 8,653,126 6.9
51 District of Columbia (51) 36 587,868 6.1
Total   34,598 301,290,332 11.5

Table 2:  National Center for Health Statistics for the year 2007.

—— 

Christopher Burgess (@burgessct) is a humanitarian focused on hunger, slavery, world health and the online safety of our young and elderly.  He serves as the Senior Security Advisor to a Fortune 100 company and previously served as a senior national security executive for more than 30 years. In addition to the United States, he has lived and worked in South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Central Europe, and Latin America where he acquired a deep understanding of the people, cultures, and societal issues which we face today. Christopher is also a regular contributor to The Huffington Post  where he writes on online safety issues and his own blogs: BurgessCT.com and Veritate et Virtute . He is the co-author of “Secrets Stolen, Fortune Lost, Preventing Intellectual Property Theft and Economic Espionage in the 21st Century.”  Christopher can be contacted at:  Christopher@burgessct.com

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2011 10:32 am

    Corinne, thank you for sharing my piece with your audience. I will be crafting a follow-up piece on my own blog which talks about each of the 2010 victims of Bullycide, which I have been able to identify. As you can imagine they run the gamut from a young-man who had a lisp and was teased incessantly, to an individual who was outed concerning their sexual orientation.
    Look forward to onward collaboration.
    All the best,
    Christopher
    @burgessct

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  2. Bullying: The 34 we lost in 2010 to Bullycide
  3. Bullycide: How many are too many?

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