Remember when you first had your baby, and had to go cold turkey on the news? I do. Because if I heard anything about a baby being in harm’s way, I cried, I couldn’t sleep, I panicked at my obvious inability to protect to my child, ever, at all.
Now, here’s the older-kid equivalent. Adolescents have a greatly increased risk of considering suicide if they’ve been bullied, says new research by the University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center. Youth suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents in the United States, according to the UNH researchers. The study surveyed kids ages of 10 to 17 years. “Peer-victimized youth had almost 2.4 times the risk of suicidal ideation,” the researchers said.
So. My son has been bullied at school for years, and weathered it (relatively) OK. And now, he’s on Facebook, where the peer victimization can be just as insidious, and much more well hidden.
Of course, I check his posts every day. And nothing looks very worrisome. But kind of like when he was a newborn, the thoughts that this news has burned into my mind will make it harder to fall asleep tonight.
The study findings also showed that kids who experienced polyvictimization (exposure to seven or more individual episodes of victimization in the past year) were almost six times more likely to think suicide is the way out. Seven doesn’t sound like much at all, when you’re talking about online bullying. That could happen in a day, no? Never mind a year.
The study concluded with a seemingly obvious truth: “A comprehensive approach to suicide prevention needs to address the safety of youth in their homes, schools and neighborhoods.”
How much does this study freak you out? I’d love to hear ideas on how to keep it in perspective yet still be vigilant enough to protect my boy. Let me know your experiences in the comments.