There is a complex relationship between bullying and the risk of suicidal ideation/behavior. Bullying and peer victimization can put adolescents at increased risk of suicidal ideation and behavior especially when other mental health issues are present. There is no conclusive evidence that bullying causes suicide due to the fact that suicidal ideation and behavior is usually not attributed to just one event or factor. It is not the bullying per se; there are important mediating variables involved.
The media has a tendency to sensationalize suicide when the victim has also been bullied. The headlines have been filled with stories about teens that were bullied and took their own lives. Clearly, there is a link between bullying and suicide. But is it as simple as - bullying causes kids to commit suicide?
Most mental health experts would argue that claiming bullying is the only cause of suicide is much too simplistic. Bullying aggravates depression and increases suicide risk and the seriousness of the issue shouldn't be minimized. But, failing to look at the other contributing factors related to suicide is a mistake. Suicide is complex issue that also is impacted by depression, feelings of hopelessness, lack of self-esteem, family-life issues and more.
Still, because bullying can be a catalyst for suicide, its significance should not be overlooked. When kids who are already at risk for suicide due to depression or other mental health issues are bullied, the results can be disastrous. Even relatively well-adjusted kids that are bullied can become depressed and contemplate suicide. So the possibility of suicide must be considered when a child is bullied.
Students involved in frequent bullying behavior - both the bully and the victim - should be screened for suicidal ideation/behaviors. In any prevention effort, it is important that students understand that there is always hope to stop the situation and they should be taught the skills to end the bullying or cyberbullying.The main target of effective prevention of youth suicides is the reduction of suicide risk factors, When adaptive coping skills and hope for change are not presented, students may feel powerless and hopeless, which increases their risk of suicide.