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Category : Parenting Tips

Bullying and Suicide Awareness, Guidance, and Resources

Tuesday , September 03 , 2019

Having open conversations with your child about bullying and suicide can be one of the hardest conversations parents may have. According to results from Student Reports of Bullying: 2017 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 20 percent of students reported being bullied during the 2016–17 school year. Of those students, 15.5 percent reported being bullied online or by text. Download the report.

Furthermore, healthychildren.org states suicide is the second most common cause of death among young people between the ages of 10-24. Some of the factors that contribute to suicide risks include depression, use of alcohol and drugs, behavior problems, bullying, and cyberbullying.

We want to provide our families with some awareness, guidance, and resources for bullying and suicide awareness and prevention. 

What is bullying

Bullying is aggressive behavior that includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose. According to stopbullying.gov, most reported bullying incidents happen in the school building; however, a significant percentage also occur on the playground or the bus. Bullying can also happen traveling to or from school, in your neighborhood, or on the Internet.

Some common signs of being bullied:

  • Unexplained injuries.

  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics or jewelry.

  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork or not wanting to go to school.

  • Sudden loss of friends.

  • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide.

What is cyberbullying

Cyberbullying occurs online or by digital communication, including text messages, instant messaging, online games, chat room, and social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and SnapChat. According to NoBullying.org, each year, 30 percent of students are the target of bullying and cyberbullying.

Some of the common signs of cyberbullying:

  • Hesitant to be online or avoids using the computer.

  • Visibly upset, angry or depressed after using a computer or cell phone.

  • A change in a pattern when using the computer i.e. only uses a computer when parents aren’t in the room.

  • Withdraws from friends, avoidance of school or peer activities.

  • Pulls away from family members.

  • Change in personality or behavior.

  • Trouble sleeping or loss of appetite. 

  • Suspicious phone calls or emails.

  • The possible drop in grades or falling behind in school work.

How bullying affects learning

A study published by the American Psychological Association, which tracked kindergarten through high school students, found that not only is school bullying linked to lower academic achievement, it’s also associated with a dislike for school, which can contribute to low confidence by students in their own academic abilities. It’s also estimated that 40-80 percent of school-aged children have experienced bullying and 10-15 percent may be either chronic victims or bullies themselves. Download the study.

District Resources

It’s important to know that PVSchools has taken steps to help students easily report bullying by partnering with the website Anonymous Tips. Students or parents can anonymously report any dangers or issues to administrators or law enforcement who can help.

Does Bullying Cause Suicide-related Behaviors

The Relationship Between Bullying and Suicide: What We Know and What it Means for Schools, published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, states that it’s unknown if bullying directly causes suicide-related behavior. According to the report, bullying and suicide-related behavior are both complex public health problems. Download the report.

Circumstances that can affect a person’s vulnerability to either or both of these behaviors exist at a variety of levels of influence – individual, family, community, and society. These include:

  • Emotional distress

  • Exposure to violence

  • Family conflict

  • Relationship problems

  • Lack of connectedness to school/sense of supportive school environment

  • Alcohol and drug use

  • Physical disabilities/learning differences

  • Lack of access to resources/support

Starting the Conversation - Guidance for Families

(Provided by the National Association of School Psychologists)

  • If your child exhibits any of the warning signs listed below, don’t be afraid to ask if they have thought about suicide or if someone is hurting them. Raising the issue of suicide does not increase the risk or plant the idea. On the contrary, it creates the opportunity to offer help. 

  • Ask your child if he or she thinks any of their friends or classmates exhibit warning signs. Talk with them about how to seek help for their friends or classmates. Guide him or her on how to respond when they see or hear any of the warning signs. 

  • Listen to your children’s comments without judgment. Doing so requires that you fully concentrate, understand, respond, and then remember what is being said. Put your own agenda aside. 

  • Get help from a school-employee or community-based mental health professional if you are concerned for your child’s safety or the safety of one of their peers.

Some Common Signs of Suicide:

  • Suicide threats, both direct (“I am going to kill myself.” “I need life to stop.”) and indirect (“I need it to stop.” “I wish I could fall asleep and never wake up.”). Threats can be verbal or written, and they are often found in online postings. 

  • Preoccupation with death in conversation, writing, drawing, and social media. 

  • Changes in behavior, appearance/hygiene, thoughts, and/or feelings. This can include someone who is typically sad who suddenly becomes extremely happy. 

  • Emotional distress. 

  • Giving away prized possessions. 

District Resources

  • Teen Lifeline: The back of the ID badges for all middle and high students includes the phone number for Teen Lifeline for students who may need help - 602-248-8336 (TEEN). Teen Lifeline is a 24/7 resource and provides a safe, confidential, and crucial crisis service where teens help teens make healthy decisions together. Learn more about Teen Lifeline.

  • Crisis Network:  We strongly encourage the use of the professionals at http://www.crisisnetwork.org.

  • School Counselors: available on-site at each of our schools.

  • Health and Support Services: The Time to Check Out Your Kid brochure contains the names and contact information of agencies and professional services for behavioral health services. Download the brochure.

Additional Resources Available for Families

  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

  • Mothers Awareness on School-age Kids (MASK): learn more at www.maskmatters.org

You’re not alone; we are here to help our families every step of the way. If you should need any additional resources or assistance along the way, please reach out to your child’s principal.