The following post appeared on 28 January as a guest blog on Social Smarts, on whose advisory board I am honored to serve.
Do you ever delve into a stack of statistics and just find yourself mesmerized by the data, data that shocks your inner core? I had that happen to me recently as I was doing some fact checking surrounding instances of children committing suicide, specifically children who were bullied into suicide by others (both adults and children). I concluded, we lose too many precious children to “bullycide.”
According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) a person dies of suicide about every 15 minutes or approximately 96 people take their own life each day. Sadly, for every person who succeeds, there have been between 8 and 25 failed attempts. That math works out to approximately 800 to 2400 attempted suicides in the United States each day.
Looking solely at the numbers for youth between the ages of 5 and 19 we see that right around age 10, suicide moves up to the third leading cause of death (See table 1). Sadly, according to the NSPL, the suicide rate amongst young people has more than doubled over the past two decades.
|Rank||Ages 5-9||Ages 10-14||Ages 15-19|
Table 1: Leading Cause of Death of Children
Digging a bit deeper into the available information, I wanted to know where, geographically, suicides were occurring. I was startled. No state is exempt. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, based on 2007 data (the most recent), the top ten states are: Alaska, Montana, New Mexico, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, West Virginia, Arizona, Oregon and Kentucky based on the number of suicides per 100,000 of population. (See table two)
I then started digging to see if the statistics would tell me how many of these were the result of bullying? My digging found that in 2010, I was able to confirm 30 cases of suicide which the family, friends, or authorities attributed to bullying. The age of the children ranged from 9-19 years of age (9-1, 10-0, 11-2, 12-2, 13-3, 14-4, 15-6, 16-2, 17-5, 18-2 and 19-3). I also found that the vast majority of these suicides were at the first and last thirds of the traditional school year (16 suicides Sep-Nov and 10 suicides Mar-May). Perhaps this is coincidence how the frequency of bullycide coincides with the academic school year. (For additional reading see: Bullycide, the end result of cyberbullying and Bullycide: My Time Has Come So Now I’m Gone )
I think you would agree that given the alignment between school year and children being bullied into suicide that an individual investment in educating and making all concerned aware of the realities is warranted.
Allow me to call you to action:
- Encourage your children to accept who they are, and be all they can be with the capabilities given to them.
- Direct our young on appropriate use of the Internet as a tool of collaboration, knowledge sharing and commerce, and not as a tool of hate.
- Make it your business to know and understand the many ways in which your child is engaging online and communicating – Smartphone, laptop, Xbox or wii and where: your house, your neighbors, the library, etc. Then monitor this activity. I’ve often said, it is not espionage to know who and what your child is being exposed to online or via any other communications medium.
- Teach your young how to cope when overwhelmed.
- Ensure your child understands mistakes are universal, and unless it stops the sun from rising in the morn, you and they can work through the error.
- Show your child how to report and confront bullying and call it out as wrong. Show them how to do this in a non-confrontational, but direct manner. To be a silent witness is to endorse the action.
If we are able to collectively work together, we can save a life, we can save many lives and in doing so we will demonstrate to the children, every day is worth living.
|Rank||State (2006 rank)||Number of Suicides||Population||Rate|
|3||New Mexico (5)||401||1,964,402||20.4|
|7||West Virginia (12)||300||1,809,836||16.6|
|11||North Dakota (15)||95||637,904||14.9|
|25||South Dakota (6T)||102||795,689||12.8|
|29||New Hampshire (31T)||158||1,312,256||12.0|
|29||South Carolina (26)||530||4,404,914||12.0|
|31||North Carolina (25)||1,077||9,041,594||11.9|
|45||Rhode Island (45)||96||1,053,136||9.1|
|49||New York (49)||1,396||19,429,316||7.2|
|50||New Jersey (50)||596||8,653,126||6.9|
|51||District of Columbia (51)||36||587,868||6.1|
Table 2: National Center for Health Statistics for the year 2007.