Suicidal Ideation, Behavior More Likely in Bullied Teens

Article excerpt

MIAMI -- Adolescents are at increased risk of suicidal ideation and behavior if they are exposed to school bullying, particularly if they are victims or victim-perpetrators, according to a prospective follow-up study.

One in seven schoolchildren, or approximately 5 million in the United States, are affected as either bully or victim. The American Medical Association adopted a new policy in 2002 that recognizes the seriousness and potential long-term effects of bullying. Increased violent behavior is one possible result, according to a study of nearly 16,000 U.S. children participating in the World Health Organization's Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children survey.

The AMA urges all physicians to recognize signs of bullying and to counsel patients and families at risk.

Dr. Young Shin Kim observed increased suicidal ideation and behavior among South Korean adolescents who were bullies or bullied, but could find no hard data to support the association. Therefore, she and her colleagues studied 1,756 seventh-and eighth-grade students in South Korea.

"We identified bullies and victims first, and then looked 10 months later for any suicidality," said Dr. Kim, a psychiatrist at Hallyum University in Seoul, South Korea, at the time of the study. Currently, she is a researcher in the department of epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Of the 1,756 participants at baseline, 14% were victims, 17% were perpetrators, and 9% were victim-perpetrators. The remaining 60% were not involved in any aspect of bullying. "The victim-perpetrator group bullied most seriously," Dr. Kim said.

The researchers used the Korean Peer Nominating Inventory, Korean Youth Self Report, and the Suicidal Thoughts Self Report to assess the prevalence of bullying and its potential impact. …