Bullying & Suicide

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Kelsey Ruch
Research Paper
Dr. Denise Greenwood
Due: April 15th, 2011

Bullying and Suicide
On November 5, 2010, Brandon Bittner, a 14 year old boy from Mount Pleasant Mills, Pennsylvania walked six miles in the middle of the night to take his own life. Brandon left a note for his family and friends stating that he was being bullied by his peers and could not handle it any longer. Brandon even went so far as to ask his parents to find enough strength to make sure this did not happen to anyone else. Friends of Brandon state that he was bullied because of his sexual orientation, the way he dressed, and the music he listened to. The superintendent also stated that Brandon took his life a few days after they had an assembly on anti-bullying but does not believe the two situations were related.

With a situation as traumatic and heart wrenching as the one just described, the first thing any parent would do is find someone to blame. And that’s exactly what the parents and friends of Brandon did. They pressed blame on his peers for bullying him so much that he felt the need to take his own life and they blamed administrators and staff for not recognizing it sooner and handling the situation properly. However, Brandon’s family and friends were wrong. Like most of us, they are not aware that bullying is not the main cause of suicide among teens. Research has shown that suicide is the “third leading cause of death among teens” (Teen Suicide Statistics), but other underlying factors are involved. Some of the underlying factors that contribute to teen suicide include psychological disorders, physical or sexual abuse, and parents who may be experiencing separation or divorce.

Statistics have shown that “approximately 95% of people who die by suicide have a psychological disorder at the time of death” (Nock 1). Some of the most common disorders include depression, bipolar disorder, and alcohol or drug use. Depression can make some teens feel worthless and make them feel as if they have few or no friends. They have a hard time communicating with others because usually people suffering from depression spend a lot of time by themselves. They lose friendships, relationships with family, and sometimes lose serious, committed relationships. Also, teens using alcohol or drugs tend to have a limited number of friends as well. No students who want to graduate high school and go off to college would involve themselves with other students who are actively involved in drugs. For that sole reason, students who participate in alcohol and or drug abuse tend to have fewer friends than those who do not. Possessing some of these characteristics may cause some students to be bullied in school, which in turn could cause a student to feel that taking his or own her life is initially the only way out.

Notice, as stated in the previous paragraph, bullying combined with other underlying factors may cause a student to take their own life, but the research provided has shown that bullying alone is not the cause. Today, most of the depressed teenagers seeing professionals are those who are popular and have what they desire and need. Those students are not typically bullied in school but due to being depressed, may still commit suicide. If a depressed, yet popular and financially set teenager commits suicide, the parents of that child cannot blame bullying if it was never a factor in the first place. Yet, when the situation arises, most of them do. This happens because it is difficult for a parent to admit that something was ever emotionally or physically wrong with their child in the first place, so the easiest thing to do is blame someone else. But what if they blame the wrong person?

According to KidsHealth, another contributing factor to teen suicide is physical or sexual abuse. Teens that are sexually or physically abused at home or by a family friend tend to have issues expressing themselves in a school setting. They become distant from their...
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