The frightening link between cyber bullying and teen suicide
Did you know that suicide is the leading cause of death in young people between the ages of 15 and 29? This is a scary enough fact in its own right, but becomes even more alarming when one considers that cyber bullying potentially has a major role to play in seeing the number of teen suicides increase even further.
South African teen suicide facts
- Suicide account for 9.5% of unnatural teen deaths
- 17.6% teens have considered attempting suicide
- 31.5% of teen suicide attempts require medical treatment
South African cyber bullying facts
A global study by YouGov surveyed 5000 teens from 11 countries, which revealed that 18% of teens had been bullied online. In South Africa, the average figure was higher, at 24% (the fourth highest of those surveyed).
With numbers such as this, the potential link between cyber bullying and suicide cannot be ignored. The online world makes bullying easier and more harmful than playground bullying – it allows anyone to become a bully, has a larger reach and exposure, and is more permanent. People can also bully and be bullied at any time of the day, even constantly.
It’s not all bad news…
The internet is certainly the new playground for bullies, but it can also be used to prevent suicide attempts through online support groups and media monitoring. For example, Facebook has an online reporting tool that allows a person’s Facebook friends to report a comment or post that has suicidal tendencies. The person who wrote the message then gets a message with contact details for someone who can help them.
Social media is also a good platform to raise awareness about issues such as cyber bullying and teen depression.
What can parents do?
Get involved in your teen’s life and keep open, non-judgemental lines of communication open so that they feel comfortable talking to you and asking for your help and advice. Keep an eye on their social profiles too look for any warning signs that they may be being cyber bullied (or be the bully themselves), or suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts.