Is bullycide real?

Bullycide is the phenomenon that states that the bullying is a cause of suicide. Let’s try to clear up the myth and discuss why correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation.

Suicide is serious business. Oftentimes, those individuals who contemplate suicide have some sort of mental illness. Usually, that mental illness is untreated clinical depression. Whether or not bullying is the catalyst for suicide doesn’t necessarily matter. When we look at the diathesis stress model for understanding mental illness, that predisposition of becoming depressed, or wanting to die by suicide has always been there. It’s an activating event that causes the onset of the mental illness which leads, in this case, for someone to die by suicide. The Huffington Post further looks at this idea of the person having a mental illness, not that the person is being bullied.

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“Bullying does take a toll on the mental health of people.” Photo from: tgvnews.com

We can see from the perception of media and through books that bullying does take a toll on the mental health of people, but not all of these people are trying to die by suicide. This is why the term bullycide is bullyshit. People are resilient, especially kids and teens. Every person that was bullied in life isn’t dead. This is why bullying is not a causation for suicide.

A study done by Yale has explored this correlation between bullying and suicide. The study concludes that there’s no definitive evidence suggesting that bullying makes kids more likely to kill themselves, but that there is evidence of correlation.  A government run website on the topic of bullying further explores the relationship between bullying and suicide, confirming that there is no definitive causation.

Bullycide is a misleading term. In fact, research shows that bullies are more likely to die by suicide compared to the people who are bullied. Suicide is a problem, and when we focus on bullying instead of suicide, we’re doing our children a disservice. People need to be aware that these thoughts can happen to anyone. There are signs to help prevent suicide from happening. Most times, a person will end up telling someone their plan. It’s up to that person to know to take the threat seriously.

Instead of putting a large emphasis on bullying prevention programs in schools to stop this “bullycide,” there should be more of an emphasis on the prevention of suicide. The school should be set up as a safe space for this person. Administration and school personnel need to go through gatekeeper training to know the signs.

There’s been a lot of research done that shows that suicide is 100 percent preventable. This means looking out for the signs that a person is exhibiting suicidal ideation. Being bullied is not a sign that the individual will die by suicide. That’s why the term is so misleading. Instead, using the acronym IS PATH WARM is going to help you identify the signs of suicide:

Ideation
Substance Abuse
Purposelessness
Anxiety
Trapped
Hopelessness
Withdrawal
Anger
Recklessness
Mood change

Suicide is 100 percent real and 100 percent preventable. Bullying is real, but not necessarily preventable because people can be cruel in their nature. In order to prevent bullycide, we need to focus on the prevention of suicide. To learn more about suicide prevention, check out the American Association of Suicidology here.