New analysis: bullying victims more likely to contemplate, attem - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

New analysis: bullying victims more likely to contemplate, attempt suicide

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A recent analysis shows children who are bullied, both in person and through technology, are more likely to contemplate and even attempt suicide.

The analysis from Leiden University in the Netherlands, published in this month's edition of JAMA Pediatrics, examined more than 40 total studies done on the topics of bullying and suicides.

The analysis concluded bullied children are twice as likely to contemplate suicide and two and a half times more likely to attempt suicide than children who have not been bullied.

The analysis also found children who are victims of "cyber bullying" are three times more likely to contemplate suicide than non-bullied kids.

Dr. Brad Brown, a Professor of Educational Psychology at the UW-Madison, said he's not surprised by the numbers.

"Bullying has very serious consequences on young people," Brown said. He said roughly one in five children experience bullying.

Brown added physical bullying tends to take place in elementary and middle school, although other forms of bullying, such as cyber bullying, can continue into high school and beyond.

Brown also said the effects of cyber bullying can, in certain instances, be more severe and longer lasting than "face to face" bullying. Thus he said the analysis' findings in regards to cyber bullying are not hard to believe.

"The challenge with cyber bullying is that it doesn't go away," Brown said. "Normal bullying incidents that take place face to face last for a short period of time and then a victim can walk away."

"Social media can follow you," he said. "With cyber bullying, the message can go out to hundreds of peers."

Brown said there are several ways parents and peers can help a child cope with the negative consequences of bullying.

"It's important to try and connect young people with good friends who will stand up for them in a bullying situation," Brown said. "It's also important to encourage young people to speak out, to seek out somebody they can talk to."

"A lot of times one of the biggest problems of victimization is that the victims don't share that (depression) with anybody," Brown said. "They hold it in."

"It's wise for parents just simply to ask, 'what's going on?' to try to develop a relationship with their child so the child can be honest with them," Brown said. "They can pay attention to other cues too, like if there's a change in friendships, a change in mood, if your child is all of a sudden not inclined to go to an activity they've been part of for a long time."

Mitch van Geel, the lead author of Leiden University's analysis, told Reuters via email his work "found that suicidal thoughts and attempted suicides are significantly related to bullying."

But van Geel also told Reuters the analysis' results in regards to cyber bullying are based on just a "handful of studies."

"At this point, this is speculative and more research is definitely needed on cyber bullying," can Geel wrote.
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