Teenaged girls are bullied more often than boys, and are more likely to consider or attempt suicide, a study has found. Researchers from Rutgers University in the US conducted analyses of the data from a US survey from 2011-2015.
"Bullying is significantly associated with depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, suicide planning, and suicide attempts," said Nancy Pontes, an assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing-Camden.
"We wanted to look at this link between bullying victimisation, depressive symptoms, and suicidality by gender," Pontes said in a statement. Pontes said that, in general, girls are more often bullied than boys, and girls are also more likely to consider, plan, or attempt suicide compared with boys, regardless of being bullied or not -- although boys are more likely to die by suicide.
In this study, researchers looked at significant associations and not direct causal links. Using two methods of statistical analysis, the study, published in the journal Nursing Research, shows the probability of a link between bullying and depressive symptoms and suicide risk Bullying among boys is often physical, Pontes said. While many schools are cracking down on physical bullying which people can see, those actions probably are preventing and stopping bullying that is more common among males, she said.
Among females, the bullying is often the kind that is not visible. It is often relational bullying, such as excluding someone from activities and social circles, or spreading rumours about them. The actions are not overt, Pontes said, so they could go on for a long time without anyone else knowing.
"Our school interventions should understand the differences in bullying and how we might better address females who are bullied," said Pontes. The researchers believe that preventing bullying should begin at a young age. She said parents should start teaching preschool children that bullying is unacceptable.
Pediatricians and nurse practitioners should talk about the harmful effects of bullying with parents so that they can intervene early and reduce the victimisation that causes adolescents to consider suicide, so they will be able to live happier and healthier lives.