Link between cyber-bulling and suicide rates on the rise
Take a stand; save a life
Alone, isolated, unwanted and outcast are just some of the words that commonly cross the mind of someone who’s being bullied. According to Canadian Children’s Rights Council (CCRC), suicide is the second leading cause of death for 10 to 24-year-olds in Canada.
Eight out of 10 people who commit suicide showed signs of being bullied.
Stephanie Stone, Diversity and Human Rights Adviser, says that according to Mount Royal University’s personal harassment policy bullying is an, “offensive, malicious, intimidating, insulting or humiliating behaviour, often associated with the misuse of power or position.”
While most online statistics are directed towards primary education to high school, Stone says bullying is found everywhere.
Dangers for those being bullied:
— Social anxiety, loneliness, isolation
— Stress related health problems
— Low self-esteem
— School absenteeism and academic problems
— Aggressive behaviours
— Contemplating, attempting or committing suicide
Dangers for those that bully:
— Not knowing the difference between right and wrong
— Delinquency and substance use
— Academic problems and increased school dropout rate
— Sexual harassment and dating aggression
— Gang involvement and criminal adulthood
— Difficulties in their relationships with others
— Being bullied at the hands of others
“Bullying can be an issue for everyone. It’s not just something that happens in the school yard – it happens in workplaces, online and yes, on university campuses,” says Stone.
While there are many different places to report bullying on campus, Stone says she receives five to 10 reports a year.
“It can often be difficult for students to report bullying, for a variety of reasons. Students have expressed concerns of not being believed, being labelled a troublemaker and fear of reprisal as reasons for not reporting,” she says.
Rates of discrimination experienced among students who identify as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans-identified, two-spirited, queer or questioning (LGBTQ) are three times higher than heterosexual youth, Statistics Canada reported.
Alarmingly, bullying doesn’t stop at school, with 40 per cent of Canadian workers reporting that they experienced bullying on a weekly basis. In recent years bullying has taken on a new form: through the Internet.
According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police website, cyber-bullying is defined as: “sending mean or threatening messages or emails, posting embarrassing photos of someone online, creating a website to make fun of others, pretending to be someone by using their name and tricking someone into revealing personal or embarrassing information and sending it to others.”
Two years ago, the death of Amanda Todd shook the nation. Todd, 15, committed suicide on Oct. 10, as a result of aggressive cyber-bullying. She lived in British Columbia. The teen posted a video on YouTube in September, a month prior to her suicide. In the video she described her life and the bullying she was experiencing through cue cards. Her death began a nation-wide anti-bullying campaign, the National Post reports.
CBC reported a case that happened last year, where Rehtaeh Parsons, 17, took her life after she was raped and then bullied for months. She lived in Nova Scotia. Canadian journalists protested for her name to be released, which was withheld due to child protection laws. The case, according to CBC, “sparked questions about justice, sexual violence and the role of social media.”
In another case reported by the National Post, Todd Loik, 15, committed suicide on Sept. 9 after constant cyber-bullying through Facebook and text messages. He lived in Saskatchewan. From reaching out to Todd’s mother, Loik’s mother was able to tap into her son’s messages. While not able to read all of them due to the extreme nature, in the article she says, “They were the nastiest things I’ve ever heard. I can’t even repeat — some of the things were just disgusting.”
These are only a few of the many cases.
Stone says there are multiple resources on campus for those who are experiencing bullying: Student Counseling, Student Advocacy, Peer Education, the Pride Centre and the Positive Space Initiative, the Iniskim and Native Student Centres, the Peer Support Centre.
“We can all protect ourselves from bullying by creating a culture of respect on campus, where bullying behaviour is not tolerated and bystanders speak out,” Stone says.
“We can report bullying when we witness or experience it, seek support and assess our own behaviour to make sure we are not engaging in bullying behaviours.”