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Bully and victim more likely to consider suicide by age 12

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Both the victim and the bully are three times more likely to have suicidal thought by the time they are 11 years old. This is according to new research from the University of Warwick.

Researchers discovered that children on both sides of the bully-victim dynamic are at a highly increased risk of considering suicide and self harm or have engaged in suicide attempts or self-harming behaviors by the time they are 11 or 12 years old. The increased odds are not related to other factors like family economic circumstances or pre-existing emotional problems.

The research team examined records from over six thousand children from the Children of the 90s study at the University of Bristol. They specifically focused on bullying occurring between 4 and 10 years old then related suicidal thought or attempts at ages 11 and 12. The data was collected from teachers, parents and the children themselves.

They found that bully-victimes were three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts and for those children who were bullied over a long period of time, six times more likely to consider suicide or participate in self-harm.

“Our findings suggest that suicide-related behavior is a serious problem for pre-adolescent youth: 4.8% of this community population reported suicidal thoughts and 4.6% reported suicidal or self-injurious behavior. Health practitioners should be aware of the relationship between bullying and suicide, and should recognize 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,” said Professor Dieter Wolke, based in the Department of Psychology and Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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