Cyberbullying more likely to make victim suicidal

Photo: RODNAE Productions/PEXELS

CHAMPAIGN -- As youth find their way in a digital age, the threat of online harassment continues to grow. A study earlier this year raises concerns that cyberbullying may be significantly more likely to influence suicidality.

Noting that suicide is the second-leading cause of adolescent deaths, the National Institutes of Health found that individuals targeted by bullies online are four times more likely to report suicidal thoughts and behaviors. This is at a time in which the national suicide rate jumped 4 percent last year, with the increase affecting youth and young adults.

"Youth are beginning to form an understanding of themselves and the world but lack the life perspective and coping skills to manage what they encounter," said Rosecrance Central Illinois Executive Director Melissa Pappas, M.S., LCPC, LCPHA. "Caregivers need to be aware of what their teens may experience, and be there to help develop healthy technology limits and build life skills."

Adults and caregivers are encouraged to watch for sudden changes in a youth’s online habits, the individual hiding content from others, or the person not wanting to discuss what is happening online. In addition, changes in mood, social habits, or grooming may indicate that the adolescent needs help.

If you sense a child is being bullied, have an open conversation about what you notice. If they may need help, contact Rosecrance or other mental healthcare providers that offer a full continuum of services for youth and young adults.

Matthew Hawkins is the Communications Specialist at Rosecrance Health Network. Over 100 years ago, Rosecrance began with children as its focus. Each client is cared for by a team of specialists who have committed their careers to addressing substance use and mental health disorders.