Cyberbullying linked to higher rates of self-harm, suicide

Stock image.
Stock image.

 

ALARMING research shows teenage and young adult victims of cyberbullying are more than twice as likely to self-harm and attempt suicide.

They are also less likely to reach out for help compared to those bullied in the playground, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

But it’s not just the victims of cyberbullying who are more vulnerable, with the study finding the perpetrators experience higher rates of suicidal thoughts and behaviours.

The researchers say the data indicates an “urgent” need for effective prevention and intervention in bullying strategies.

“Prevention of cyberbullying should be included in school anti-bullying policies, alongside broader concepts such as digital citizenship, online peer support for victims (and) how an electronic bystander might appropriately intervene,” said lead author Professor Ann John at Swansea University Medical School.

She also called for other interventions such as how to contact mobile phone companies and internet service providers to block or identify users.

“Suicide prevention and intervention is essential within any comprehensive anti-bullying program and should incorporate a whole-school approach,” said Professor John.

Cyberbullying is using electronic communication to bully another, for instance by sending intimidating, threatening or unpleasant messages using social media.

Researchers at Swansea University Medical School and Universities of Oxford and Birmingham conducted a research review into the association between cyberbullying and youth mental health.

The review took in 150,000 children and young people aged under 25 across 30 countries over a 21-year period.

Overall, cyberbullying increased the risk of self-harm or suicidal behaviour 2.3 times, according to the findings.

Perpetrators were also found to be at a 20 per cent increased risk of self-harm and attempted suicide than non-bullies.

The research also found students who were cyberbullied were less likely to report and seek help than those victimised by more traditional means.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (for young people aged 5 to 25).

– AAP

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