Is there a connection between cyberbullying and suicide?
Several teen suicides have been linked to cyberbullying, but the reality is more complicated. Cyberbullying is rarely the sole factor contributing to suicide, however kids who are bullied -- or who bully others -- are at an increased risk for suicide. In cases where suicide is linked with cyberbullying, other factors exist, such as offline bullying and mental health issues such as depression.
Bullying in general has negative repercussions, especially for kids who are struggling with a variety of issues. And, unfortunately, both online and offline bullying is pretty prevalent, though suicide attempts are fairly rare. Certain types of social media -- such as question sites that allow kids to pose questions anonymously -- seem to attract destructive behavior.
What should you do if you're concerned about your kid? Look for warning signs. Take note of your kid's attitudes, behaviors, and moods. The tween and teen years can be rocky; probe a little to determine whether something more serious is going on. Talk to your kid about her social media experiences, help her set limits on how much time she spends online and who her online friends are, and get her involved in offline activities. Steer her away from sites that aren't positive and productive. For more help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers comprehensive information and counseling. And Crisis Text Line lets kids text a trained crisis counselor (text START to 741741).
The Child Mind Institute contributed to this article. Learn more at childmind.org.