Bullying is a serious problem, now more than ever before. According to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, 20 percent of high school students reported being bullied on school property, and 5% reported not attending school at least once in the past 30 days due to safety concerns. Bullying can cause damages that are severe, and sometimes, irreversible.
A term coined in reference to those irreversible damages is “bullycides.” About 12% of all youth and young adult deaths can be attributed to suicide.
Though parents can’t be on campus to prevent their kid from being bullied, it’s important that they do their part to look out for potential warning signs reflective of suicidal thoughts. Some kids will not be explicit about how they’re feeling or may feel a sense of embarrassment causing them to keep their thoughts to themselves, but just because they may not be outwardly direct about what’s going on in their lives does not mean that they are okay.
Consider what happened to Haylee Fentress and Paige Moravet, two 14-year-old girls that were best friends. What started out as a seemingly innocent sleepover at Haylee’s house ended in tragedy when the two girls were found dead. They hung themselves after leaving a short suicide note. Thinking in retrospect, their family members knew that there was something wrong but did not act on their instincts.
Ten days prior to the joint suicide, Haylee wrote on her Facebook page, “I’m so nervous and I just want to get it over with. I love you, Paige.” On another occasion, Haylee commented on her aunt’s Facebook after being expelled, “I don’t know what to do. I’m so sad and feel lonely. I hope I get to be with my friends again soon.”
The Cause Behind the Suicide Pact
Bullying is said to have played a huge role in their decision to commit suicide. Haylee was expelled after getting into a fight with other girls, in which she defended Paige against harassment.
Family members of the two young girls find themselves wishing that they had paid more attention to gain a greater awareness of the situation. Though it’s impossible to say whether or not they could have prevented the tragedy, an awareness of the situation would have been beneficial for all parties involved.
Teen bullying can cause teenagers to feel isolated from their peers and community. During those fragile teenage years, all teens want is to be accepted and liked by their peers. Being bullied can have a heavy negative impact on their emotions and attitudes towards life and the world in general.
Warning Signs and What You Can Do To Help
One warning sign to look out for is a withdrawal from almost everyone in their life they usually have contact with. In this case, the two girls excluded themselves from everyone but each other, which may be a sign indicative of a suicide pact.
According to the CDC, 26.1 percent of students surveyed reported feeling sad or hopeless for a period of two weeks or more –so much so that they stopped partaking in their favorite activities. Over thirteen percent of students reported that they contemplated committing suicide, with the majority of those students being female.
Most students that seriously contemplate suicide and create a course of action will be extremely discreet about it, so parents that have any kind of intuitive feelings about their child or pick up on slight changes in their behavior should act on them. Because many tweens and teens view Facebook and other social media sites as a medium to release their frustrations, it’s imperative to keep an eye out on what they are posting.
Create a mutual sense of understanding that will allow your child to come to you if something is ever amiss. While there’s no guarantee that your child will tell you if they are being bullied or not, being there for them through the good times and bad can make them think twice about their self-worth the next time they are put into a volatile situation.