A British study found that at least half of suicides among youth are somehow related to bullying.
Given that thousands of young people kill themselves each year and many thousands more attempt it, that translates to a lot of bullying-related thoughts of suicide.
Not all suicides among youth are connected to bullying, but research has indicated a connection, so reducing bullying may lower the incidence of suicides and attempted suicides. Education officials say to listen to what these youth are saying; they often will share their feelings before attempting to kill themselves. Parents, counselors and friends should pay special attention to people who have a plan to kill themselves in place. One young woman cautioned that even if friends ask their friends to not tell anyone about their suicidal feelings, do it anyway.
"Even if they tell you not to tell anyone, you need to," Sara Lynsky said.
That's the best friends you can be, counselor Sandra Sorenson from Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy said.
"They would rather have a friend who is angry with you and alive than not to have a friend," she said.
"A friend told me he wanted to commit suicide," Sara said. "Another hung himself in his room. His twin found him."
A number of bullying-related suicides have made national news in recent weeks.
• Devin Brown of Georgia had been bullied for dating someone of a different race, then had a pie he had made smashed into his face. He convinced his father not to report the incidents. Most recently, near the end of March he reported to school officials about a student who brought a knife to school and announced her intention to stab a teacher. Bullies heckled him and called him a snitch. That evening he hung himself in his closet with a belt. He was 13.
• In April in Ottawa, Canada, 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons was taken off life support three days after she tried to hang herself. She had been bullied for more than a year following an alleged sexual assault, after which photos of the act were distributed. Her mother wrote that she attempted suicide because her spirit was ruined from the bullying, messaging and harassment.
• Amanda Brownell was taken off life support on April 16. It had been sustaining her for nearly four years. She had hung herself in a girl's restroom at Del Mar High School in San Jose, Calif. Her classmates had sent mocking texts about her.
• A 13-year-old boy in Palmdale, Calif., Nigel Hardy, committed suicide in April after punching a student who is said to have harassed him for being a cheerleader. He was suspended from school for the incident. He is believed to have shot himself with his father's gun.