Both victims and perpetrators of bullying are at a higher risk for suicide than their peers. Children who are both victims and perpetrators of bullying are at the highest risk (Kim & Leventhal, 2008; Hay & Meldrum, 2010; Kaminski & Fang, 2009). All three groups (victims, perpetrators, and perpe¬trator/victims) are more likely to be depressed than children who are not involved in bullying (Wang, Nansel et al., in press). Depression is a major risk factor for suicide.


Possible Risk Factors for Teen Suicide

Causes of teen suicide

There are several different factors that may lead a teen to take his or her life, but the most common is depression. Feelings of hopelessness and anxiety, along with feelings of being trapped in a life that they cannot handle, are very real contributors to teen suicide. In some cases, teenagers believe that suicide is the only way to solve their problems.

Other factors that may contribute to teen suicide include:

  • Divorce of parents.
  • Violence in the home.
  • Inability to find success at school.
  • Feelings of worthlessness.
  • Rejection by friends or peers.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Death of loved on or someone close to them
  • The suicide of a friend or someone he or she "knows" online.

Warning Signs

Youth suicide and suicidal thoughts or behavior might seem to appear out of the blue, but in reality, most youth present warning signs. Warning signs you might see:

  • Signs of depression or feelings of hopelessness
  • Lack of interest or energy (or wild variations in energy levels)
  • Changes in eating habits, sleep patterns, or personal appearance
  • Increase in anxiety or anxiety related illnesses (headaches, stomachaches)
  • Any dramatic changes in behavior, actions, or attitude
  • Being unusually quiet or unusually aggressive/angry
  • Dropping out of hobbies, sports, school, or job
  • Talking about death or cult figures who died by suicide
  • Preoccupation with death, dying, or suicide * (includes joking about death or suicide, creative writing, poetry, artwork)
  • A sudden elated mood following a time of depression *
  • Previous suicide attempt(s) *
  • Serious talk of suicide *
  • Talking about or making a suicide plan *
  • Engaging in risk taking behavior (driving recklessly, unsafe sex) *
  • Increase in alcohol or drug use *
  • Giving away prize possessions, saying good-bye, writing a will, writing farewell letters *

Warning signs you might hear: often youth who are considering suicide will give clues through their comments. If you hear a youth make statements like these, take them seriously.

  • "Nothing ever goes right for me."
  • "It'll all be over soon."
  • "Whatever, nothing matters anyway."
  • "I might as well kill myself" *
  • "I hate life" *
  • "Everyone would be better off without me" *
  • "I just can't take it anymore." *
  • "I wish I was dead." *

*All of these warning signs are important to recognize however those marked with (*) indicate the more serious warning signs


How to help someone with suicidal ideation

When someone says he or she is thinking about suicide, or says things that sound as if the person is considering suicide, it can be very upsetting. You may not be sure what to do to help, whether you should take talk of suicide seriously, or if your intervention might make the situation worse. Taking action is always the best choice.

The first step is to find out whether the person is in danger of acting on suicidal feelings. Be sensitive, but ask direct questions, such as:

  • How are you coping with what's been happening in your life?
  • Do you ever feel like just giving up?
  • Are you thinking about dying?
  • Are you thinking about hurting yourself?
  • Are you thinking about suicide?
  • Have you thought about how you would do it?
  • Do you know when you would do it?
  • Do you have the means to do it?

Asking about suicidal thoughts or feelings won't push someone into doing something self-destructive. In fact, offering an opportunity to talk about feelings may reduce the risk of acting on suicidal feelings.

  • Look for warning signs
  • Get emergency help if needed

If you believe someone is in danger of committing suicide or has made a suicide attempt:

  • Don't leave the person alone.
  • Call 911 or your local emergency number right away. Or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room yourself.
  • Try to find out if he or she is under the influence of alcohol or drugs or may have taken an overdose.
  • Tell a family member or friend right away what's going on.

If a friend or family member talks or behaves in a way that makes you believe he or she might commit suicide, don't try to handle the situation without help there are resources and support available — get help from a trained professional as quickly as possible.