According to a new study, kids that are bullied in school are 2.5 times more like to contemplate suicide than their non-bullied peers. School bullies aren’t the only risk factor for suicidal behavior though. Researchers found that children who were abused or sexually assaulted by a parent were up to 4.5 times more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and the risk goes up to 6 times more likely for kids who experienced seven or more victimizing experiences in a year. Study author Dr. Heather Turner, a professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire, explains: “Exposure to multiple forms of victimization is especially detrimental. These kids may be exposed to crime and violence at home by witnessing their parents fighting and other types of domestic violence, and they may witness violence in their neighborhoods and be bullied on the Internet. These are kids that are clearly experiencing a hige amount of adversity in multiple areas of their lives.”
The study was conducted as part of the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence and followed 1,186 kids between the ages of 10 and 17. The children were given surveys regarding any abuse that they experienced and their environment and whether they ever thought about committing suicide. The study found that about 1 in 23 kids reported thinking about killing themselves and those children who lived with a step family or a parent with a live-in unmarried partner were at 3 times a higher risk of suicidal thoughts than those living with two married parents.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suicide remains the third leading cause of death for children between the ages of 10 and 24 and nearly 24,000 adolescents take their own lives each year. Better understanding the risk factors that lead to suicidal thoughts and ideation is the best chance researchers have to prevent these tragic deaths from occurring in the future.