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Friday, October 28, 2011

Important New Report on Bullying and Suicide

The Safe Schools Coalition announced a new report on bullying and suicide.  We thought our readers would like to learn about it.

From the Safe Schools Coalition:

Dear Safe Schools Coalition Members and Friends:

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center has released Suicide and Bullying Issue Brief examining the relationship between suicide and bullying among children and adolescents, with Special Attention to LGBT Youth.

Legitimate source? Yes. The SPRC is supported by a grant (1 U79 SM059945-01) from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

SPRC’s Suicide and Bullying Issue Brief is a review and analysis of the literature. It examines the relationship between suicide and bullying among children and adolescents, with special attention to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. It also explores strategies for preventing these problems. This short publication can be downloaded at http://www.sprc.org/library/Suicide_Bullying_Issue_Brief.pdf

Bullying and Suicide--Klomek, A. B., Kleinman, M., Altschuler, E., Marrocco, F., Amakawa, L., & Gould, M. S. (2011). High school bullying as a risk for later depression and suicidality. Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior, 41(5), 501-516.

Link to Abstract -- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21793875

SOURCE: Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s The Weekly Spark, October 21, 2011

Excerpted from the brief, re: LGBT youth:

~ LGBT youth attempt suicide at a rate 2–4 times higher than that of their heterosexual peers.

~ A recent review of the research identified 19 studies linking suicidal behavior in lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) adolescents to bullying at school, especially among young people with “cross-gender appearance, traits, or behaviors”.

~ LGBT youth experience more bullying (including physical violence and injury) at school than their heterosexual peers.

~ A review of the research found that the relationship between bullying and suicide risk was stronger for LGB youth than for heterosexual youth.


Excerpted from the report, re: prevention:

Comprehensive school-based prevention programs can help prevent suicidal behavior. Research and experience suggest that school-based suicide prevention programs should not focus narrowly on student education and life skills training but also include the following:

• Activities to identify young people at risk of suicide (such as gatekeeper training and screening)

• Referrals to mental health services


The evidence for the effectiveness of school-based bullying prevention programs is mixed.


Recommendations:

The following action steps may help create synergy in addressing both suicide and bullying.

• Start prevention early. Bullying begins at an age before many of the warning signs of suicide are evident. Intervening in bullying among younger children, and assessing both bullies and victims of bullying for risk factors associated with suicide, may have significant benefits as children enter the developmental stage when suicide risk begins to rise.

• Keep up with technology. Bullying often takes place in areas hidden from adult supervision. Cyberspace has become such an area. At the same time, young people may also use social media and new technologies to express suicidal thoughts that they are unwilling to share with their parents and other adults. Both bullying prevention programs and suicide prevention programs need to learn how to navigate in this new world.

• Pay special attention to the needs of LGBT youth and young people who do not conform to gender expectations. These youth are at increased risk for both bullying victimization and suicidal behavior. It is essential to respond to the needs of these young people, especially the need for an environment in which they feel safe, not just from physical harm, but from intolerance and assaults upon their emotional well-being.

• Use a comprehensive approach. Reducing the risk of bullying and suicide requires interventions that focus on young people (e.g., mental health services for youth suffering from depression) as well as the environment (especially the school and family environments) in which they live.

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