14/06/2010

Bullying Highlighted In Child Suicides

Some 44% of suicides committed by young people in the UK are due to bullying according to charity Beatbullying.

From 2000-2008, the Office of National Stastics (ONS) recorded 176 suicides of 10-14 year-olds. Beatbullying undertook a comprehensive search of the Nexis database to examine the number of these suicides reported in the national media. Of the 59 cases covered by the national media, 26 were connected to bullying (44%). Only cases where bullying was identified clearly, and without doubt, as a contributing factor in the decision to end the life were counted and included in this figure. The research was independently verified by Dr Benjamin Richardson at Warwick University.

Despite the lack of information surrounding the remaining suicides, we assert the true number of suicides committed by young people aged 10-14 because they were being bullied is far larger, and could be as many as 78 in the nine year period.

Furthermore, the ONS recorded an additional 1,769 suicides of 15-19 year olds between 2000 and 2008. As a result, the total number of adolescent suicides that are directly related to bullying could shockingly reach into the hundreds.

The data on suicides of 10-14 year olds collated by Beatbullying points towards a higher tendency of suicide among young girls, with 65% of bullying related suicides committed by girls. 73% of suicides were committed by hanging, whilst six cases involved the young person taking an overdose of pills.

Beatbullying is calling for the new Government to honour its commitment to reduce bullying in schools and to take swift action and work with schools, industry and third sector organisations to fund anti-bullying programmes in every school.

Emma –Jane Cross, Chief Executive of Beatbullying, said: "The connection between bullying and child suicide is undeniably clear and the lack of clarity and research in this area is unacceptable - we need action and we need it now.

"Government need to take a long, hard look at the issue to understand why children as young as ten are taking their own lives.

"It’' a distressing subject but one which must be investigated as a matter of urgency if we're to help our young people and prevent them taking such desperate action – suicide should never feel like the only option for any child or young person.

"Beatbullying welcomes the fact that the new coalition Government has made a commitment to tackling bullying in schools and we urge them to take notice of this research and act swiftly to implement bullying prevention programmes in every school in this country. The new administration has a real opportunity and responsibility to reach those very vulnerable children who are so badly bullied that they contemplate suicide.

"It's unacceptable for even one child to be bullied – that's why I have made tackling bullying a top priority. Our Education and Children’s Bill in the autumn will put heads and teachers in control, giving them a range of tough new powers to deal with indiscipline, including bullying."

(CD/BMcC)

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