Research finds bullies and victims three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts by age 11

February 29, 2012, University of Warwick

as both a victim and a bully – are three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts by the time they reach 11 years old, according to research from the University of Warwick.

In a paper published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the researchers found children who are both victims and bullies ('bully-victims'), are at highly increased risk of considering suicide, or have planned and engaged in suicidal or self-harming behaviour by 11-12 years of age. These increased odds were not explained by other factors family circumstances or pre-existing emotional problems.

The team looked at data from 6,043 children in the Children of the 90s study at the University of Bristol to assess bullying between four and 10 years and the prevalence of suicidal thoughts at 11-12 years old.

The study used information collected from parents and teachers, as well as the child, to see how common bullying or victim behaviour was.

They found that, compared to children who were never bullied, 'bully-victims' were three times as likely to have suicidal thoughts, and that those who were bullied over a long period of time were six times more likely to consider suicide.

Those who bully others but never become victims (pure ) were also at increased risk for suicide thoughts and suicidal or self-harming behaviour but the findings were not as consistent.

One of the study's authors Professor Dieter Wolke is based in the Department of Psychology and Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick.

He said: "Our study findings suggest that suicide-related behaviour is a serious problem for pre-adolescent youth: 4.8% of this community population reported and 4.6% reported suicidal or self-injurious behaviour. Health practitioners should be aware of the relationship between bullying and suicide, and should recognise the very real risks that may be evident earlier in development than commonly thought.

"Targeting intervention schemes from primary school onward is paramount, and could help to prevent chronic exposure to bullying, which is especially harmful."

Explore further: New research reveals extent of family and sibling bullying

More information: 'Involvement in Bullying and Suicide-related Behaviour at 11 Years: A Prospective Birth Cohort Study', Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Related Stories

New research reveals extent of family and sibling bullying

June 29, 2011
Children who are slapped and shouted at by their parents are more likely to bully their brothers and sisters. Findings from 'Understanding Society', a study of 40,000 UK households funded by the Economic and Social Research ...

CAMH study confirms genetic link to suicidal behavior

October 7, 2011
A new study from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has found evidence that a specific gene is linked to suicidal behaviour, adding to our knowledge of the many complex causes of suicide. This research may help doctors ...

Recommended for you

Prediction of psychotic onset with AI language analysis

January 24, 2018
Psychiatrists characterize schizophrenia, a mental condition with devastating effects on those who suffer it, by a set of intuitively understandable concepts including "poverty of speech" and "flight of ideas." These concepts, ...

Hospice patients define the changing nature of wisdom in their final days

January 24, 2018
Wisdom is typically considered to be the fruit of a long life, the accumulation of experiences lived and lessons learned. In recent years, scientists have created a consensus definition of wisdom as a complex trait with several ...

Short-course treatment for combat-related PTSD offers expedited path to recovery

January 23, 2018
Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be debilitating and standard treatment can take months, often leaving those affected unable to work or care for their families. But, a new study demonstrated that many ...

Social and emotional skills linked to better student learning

January 23, 2018
Students with well-developed and adaptive social and emotional behaviours are most likely to excel in school, according to UNSW researchers in educational psychology.

Priming can negate stressful aspects of negative sporting environments, study finds

January 23, 2018
The scene is ubiquitous in sports: A coach yells at players, creating an environment where winning is the sole focus and mistakes are punished. New research from the University of Kansas shows that when participants find ...

Study of learning and memory problems in OCD helps young people unlock potential at school

January 22, 2018
Adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have widespread learning and memory problems, according to research published today. The findings have already been used to assist adolescents with OCD obtain the help ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

RobertKarlStonjek
not rated yet Feb 29, 2012
...as both a victim and a bully...

Does this mean they bully themselves?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.