Bullying, Excessive Internet Use Up Suicide Risks Among Teens

A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns that teens who are bullied or use internet excessively may be at an increased risk of suicide.

The report is based on findings from a new study that found bullying and excessive Internet use have led to suicide becoming the second leading cause of death, after road accidents and accidental overdoses, for older teens, between the ages of 15 and 19.

“Bullying has always been a major issue for adolescents, but there is now greater recognition of the connection between bullying and suicide,” said lead author of the study Benjamin Shain, MD, head of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at North Shore University Health System, adding that the advent of social media has elevated the rate suicide thoughts and attempts in today’s teen generation.

“The internet is a key influence, as well. Cyberbullying, for example is as serious problem as face-to-face bullying,“ Dr. Shain added.

The study found that teenagers who spend more than five hours a day on internet are at a greater risk of trying to kill themselves.

The study also found a difference among the genders when it comes to an association between bullying and suicide risk. “Boys seem to require repeated bullying to have a substantial negative effect, whereas girls it could be one episode,” Dr. Shain said.

In the wake of fresh evidence revealing a strong association between bullying & excessive internet use and suicides among adolescents, Dr.Shain and colleagues are urging pediatricians to screen their teen patients for suicidal thoughts and other factors associated with increased suicide risk.

Based on their findings, the researchers emphasized on the role of parents and physicians when it comes to curb teen suicides.

“Pediatricians need to be aware of the problem overall,” Shain said. “They should be screening for things like mood disorders, substance abuse as well as bullying.”

“Physicians, including pediatricians, can play a critical role in identifying mental health conditions and in preventing suicide,” added Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

According to her, doctors should be trained to identify teens who may be thinking of taking their own lives.

The AAP report was published in the July 2016 Pediatrics (published online June 27)

Source: Health News Line