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Christina Endy
Mrs. Abbadessa
Honors English IV
21 January 2015
Increased Teen Suicide Rate
Over the years, the teen suicide rate has drastically increased, and this can be contributed
to both school and cyberbullying. Although there are many different factors that contribute to this
increase, school bullying and cyberbullying are the main causes. Suicide is one of the top causes
of death among teenagers. According to a large sample of US high school students taken in 2011,
victims of both school bullying and cyberbullying are at higher risk for depression and suicide
(Messias). Because teen suicide is a growing problem it is important to identify the underlying
causes and produce effective solutions. Cyberbullying occurs when digital media is used for
bullying (Messias). With the rapid increase in technology throughout the last decade a new form
of bullying has emerged. The computer screen, phone screen, etc. gives the cyber bully a sense
of security. Due to the fact that the cyberbully feels hidden and anonymous, they feel they have
the ability to harass the victim without facing future consequences (Davison). By virtue of this
expanding issue it is important to have solutions set in place.
It is not uncommon for adolescents to think about ending their lives (Gould & Kramer,
2001 Rueter, Holm, McGeorge, & Conger, 2008

), although thinking about suicide does not always

lead to suicide attempts (Pelkonen & Marttunen, 2003 ). The national 2007 Youth Risk
Behavior Survey of a representative sample of students in grades 9 through 12
indicated 14.5% of students seriously considered attempting suicide, 11.3% made
a suicide plan, and 6.9% attempted suicide during the 12 months preceding the

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survey ( Eaton et al., 2008 ). It is for this reason that the nation's public health agenda
objectives for Healthy People 2010prioritized adolescent suicide prevention
efforts (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000 ) (Pirruccello).
The causes of both school and cyberbullying include, but are not limited to: race, gender,
age, economic social status, and household employment. According to a study, Caucasians have
reported more overall bullying, compared to Hispanics and African-Americans. 30.1%
Caucasians have reported bullying whereas 23.9% of Hispanics and 16.5% of African
-Americans have reported bullying (Messias). Overall, girls are more likely to be report being
bullied (31.3% vs. 22.9%), in particularly to be cyberbullied (22.0% vs. 10.8%), while boys are
only more likely to report exclusive school bullying (12.2% vs. 9.2%) (Messias). It is possible
that girls are more likely to report bullying due to the fact that it is more acceptable for girls to be
bullied. These statistics do not necessarily represent the fact that more girls are bullied than boys.
These statistics may show that girls are more willing to report bullying. Society tells boys that
they must have this tough exterior and nothing can affect them, so when the time comes that they
do get bullied they feel that they have to keep it hidden becauses they feel ashamed and
embarrassed.
Another factor that corresponds with school bullying and cyberbullying is age. Overall,
school bullying decreases from ages fourteen (32.6%) to eighteen and older (21.2%). On the
other hand, the rate for cyberbullying has increased from ages fourteen (6.2%) to eighteen and
older (7.4%) (Messias). The decrease in school bullying may be connected to the increase in
cyberbullying. As children age, their parents trust them with more technology; they begin to have
their own cell phones, computers, etc. This in turn allows teens to bully one another via
technology.

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A familys economic social status also plays a role in bullying. Children who come from
a lower economic social status are more likely to be bullied than a child who from a higher
economic social status. In fact, low economic children are almost three times more likely to be
bullied (Davison). Those who come from a lower social status tend to have less money to
purchase name brand products. Walking through the hallway with worn out hand me downs will
instantly label someone as an outcast. Similar to the role of ones economic social status,
household employment also contributes to bullying. According to the research done in The
Dangers of Cyberbullying parental unemployment is associated with the increase in
cyberbullying. Children with an unemployed father were more than two times more likely to
become a cyberbully. In connection. this may be due to children being angry that their father is
unemployed so they lash out and force their anger onto others. On the other hand, children with
unemployed fathers were almost two times more likely to become victims of cyberbullying.
This shows support that home-related stressors and the parent-child bond played a significant
role in cyberbullying (Davison).
Another contribution to the increase in bullying and teen suicide is social media. A Kaiser
Foundation study has pointed out that 86% of adolescents have a computer at their home and
spend, on average, at least one hour on the internet. The study has also reported that an estimate
of 80% of American teens are using social media sites (i.e. Twitter, Facebook) (Messias).
Technology is becoming an integral part of adolescents lives and their relationships with society.
With the growing form of communication, teens use social media to harass and intimidate one
another (Bryce and Fraser). Social media allows the possibility for a greater audience (Davison).
Cyberbullies often seek a greater audience for greater satisfaction. A larger audience allows the
cyberbullying to feel like he has more power. With this growing problem, it is important to

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protect children from not only bullies but cyberbullies (Davison). Compared to traditional
bullying, there is a stronger relationship between cyberbullying and teen depression and suicide
(Messias).
Every day, many people are affected by suicide; whether he is a successful victim, an
attempter, or a loved one of the victim, many people are affected by such doings. According to
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2008), suicide is the third leading cause of
death among American youth ages 1014 and ages 1524 (Crepau-Hobson).
A well known victim of suicide is Ryan Halligan. Not only was Ryan a victim of suicide,
he was also a victim of school bullying and cyberbullying. Ryan faced bullying for the first time
when in the fifth grade. A few of his classmates had picked on him for his poor academic
performance. Prior to entering the fifth grade Ryan was in his schools special education program
from preschool to fourth grade. Due to the fact that the bullying was verbal and not physical, his
parents had advised him to ignore the situation and walk away. After completing the fifth grade,
Ryan had moved to the building for grades six to eight. The thought of walking the same halls as
the eighth graders had terrified him and he was continuing to struggle academically. The start of
his problem with bullying was first caused by his poor performance in school; and it had also
been the cause of his second encounter with bullying. The bullying had gotten worse when Ryan
entered seventh grade and escalated to a significant level during December 2002. After months
of bottling up what Ryan had gone through at school, he had snapped. One night, at the kitchen
table, Ryan had a melt down and finally his parents had realized what he was actually going
through. The bullies were back and the family knew something had to be done. Ryan and his
father had agreed that learning self defense was the best option, as a precaution to the worst case
scenario. That year for Christmas Ryan received Billy Blanks Taebo Kick Boxing program

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along with a punching bag and gloves. Every evening, Ryan and his father would do the exercise
program together. During that time they discussed strategies in dealing with the bullies. One day
in February 2003 Ryans parents received a call from the assistant principal, Ryan had gotten into
a fight. Mr. Halligan had thought the plan had worked perfectly, the bully had not pestered Ryan
since. Unfortunately, the bullying had started up again and the torment became unimaginable.
This pain had led to Ryan Halligans suicide on October 7, 2003. A few days following the
funeral, Ryans father learned what had caused his son to choose suicide. After going through his
messages on AOL he was informed on what was actually going on. Ryans new friend, the bully,
had spread a rumor stating that Ryan was gay and the majority of the school had decided to get in
on the taunting. That summer, Ryan approach a popular girl from his school, beginning to
establish a relationship. She had made Ryan share personal and embarrassing information with
her. Which she generously exchanged with her friends so they could have a good laugh. When
the next school year began Ryan learned what had happened and the pain had crushed him into
millions of pieces (Halligan).
Technology and cyberbullying both played a vital role in the suicide of Ryan Halligan.
Megan Meier is, unfortunately, another victim of cyberbullying and suicide. Megan had
struggled with attention deficit disorder, her weight, and was battling depression. After years of
having difficulty with her self esteem Megan had turned into a more vibrant and confident girl.
This was the result of meeting a boy online, Josh. They seemed to be getting along swimmingly,
until Megan received a disturbing message from Josh on October 15, 2006. The next day Megan
had signed onto her MySpace account to see if Josh had ever responded. Soon after logging on
Megan saw the hateful comments her peers had been making towards her; calling her a slut and
referring to her as fat. Upset, Megan ran up to her bedroom and her parents proceeded to make

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dinner. Twenty minutes later, her mom froze and had an awful feeling. She quickly went upstairs
to her daughters bedroom where she found Megan, hanging in her closet.
School bullying, physical bullying and cyberbullying are not the only causes to teen
suicide. There are many other risk factors that tie into the increasing teen suicide rate.
Risk factors reported to contribute to suicidal behavior include the following:
Presence of psychiatric illness, with depression being most common (Burns & Patton, 2000
).
Previous history of suicide attempts (Hawton, Zahl, & Weatherall, 2003 ).
Low family and peer support (Kerr, Preuss, & King, 2005 ).
Physical and sexual abuse (Bensley, Van Eenwyk, Spieker, & Schoder, 1999 ).
Victimization (Borowsky, Ireland, & Resnick, 2001 ).
Same-sex orientation (Russell & Joyner, 2001 ).
Serotonin deficiency (Kamali, Oquendo, & Mann, 2001 ).
Having a family member who had attempted suicide (Brent & Mann, 2006 )
Access to firearms (Miller, Azrael, Hepburn, Hemenway, & Lippmann, 2006 ) (Pirruccello).
Bullying may not be the only factor in teen suicide. Many people will argue that mental health,
stress, and personal situations have a strong connection to the increased teen suicide rate.
Researchers studied ninety-four deaths from youth aged 10-19 that resulted from suicide. Of
these deaths, only 6.4% were associated with bullying. The most frequent stressors included

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conflict with parents (21%), Problems with girlfriends or boyfriends (17%), problems in school
(11%), and criminal or legal trouble (11%) (Kirkey). Stress from school and a sense of
hopelessness often lead teenagers to feel suicide is their only option (Pirruccello).
The effects of cyberbullying victimization are similar to traditional bullying and
include feelings of anger, sadness, powerlessness, fear, and low self-esteem (Hoff
& Mitchell, 2009). Victims of cyberbullying are at an increased risk of using
alcohol and drugs, skipping school, receiving poor grades, experiencing in-person
bullying, and suffering from health problems. Cyberbullying victims have
reported more social difficulties and higher levels of depression and anxiety than
victims of traditional bullying (Campbell, Spears, Slee, Butler, & Kift, 2012).
(Smokowski, et. all).
Although bullying and cyberbullying are not the only contributing factors to the increased teen
suicide rate, both play a very significant role. Stress and depression do have a connection to teen
suicide. However, both factors occur commonly in many adolescents lives. Bullying and
cyberbully are growing problems in which a solution needs to be found.
The school system may be the main source of solution for this rapidly growing issue.
Due to the negative impact of cyberbullying on students, schools must take action to reduce
incidents both inside and outside of school. This becomes a particularly sensitive issue when
cyberbullying takes place outside of school, yet it impacts students across all settings. School
administrators must proceed with caution, however, when disciplining for speech that occurs
outside of the classroom, ensuring that first amendment rights are protected (Willard, 2007a).

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Because of potential legal issues, it is in both the schools and the students best interests to
carefully draft and implement preemptive policies and prevention programs aimed at reducing, if
not eliminating, cyberbullying. (Stauffer, et all). The only way to solve the increasing teen
suicide rate, due to bullying and cyberbullying, is for the school to intervene. The school must
acknowledge there is a growing problem and make the students aware of their actions.

Works Cited
Bryce, JoFraser, James. "'It's Common Sense That It's Wrong': Young People's Perceptions And
Experiences Of Cyberbullying."Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking 16.11 (2013):
783-787. Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection. Web. 15 Dec. 2014. The authors of
this article are Jo Bryce and James Fraser. Through this article the authors describe how bullying
and cyberbullying are growing prob;e,s. Because of the rapid growth parents should be
concerned.
Crepeau-Hobson, Franci. "An Exploratory Study Of Suicide Risk Assessment Practices In The
School Setting." Psychology In The Schools 50.8 (2013): 810-822. Academic Search Complete.
Web. 8 Dec. 2014. The author, Franci Crepeau-Hobson is associated with the University of
Colorado Denver. The author states that suicidal behavior continues to be a major health problem

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in the United States. Schools are required to take the necessary requirements in order to ensure
the safety of their students. The explanatory study practices a suicide risk assessment over three
years for three school districts. The study showed that the risk assessments were promising. This
will help to contribute to my research paper because it shows that when action are taken, teen
suicide can be prevented and or decreased.
Davison, Christopher B., and Carl H. Stein. "The Dangers of Cyberbullying." North American
Journal Of Psychology 16.3 (2014): 595-606. Academic Search Complete. Web. 8 Dec. 2014.
The author, Christopher Davison is affiliated with Ball State University. The author argues that
withe the increase of availability of social media, the internet is becoming a more dangerous
place. The article discusses both the economic, health and social consequences. The author
argues that cyber bullying is getting worse and is going on a downward spiral. They believe that
cyber bullying can be just as harmful as physical bullying. This will be helpful with my paper
because my research paper will focus on cyber bullying and how it leads to suicide.
Halligan, John P. "Ryan's Story." Speech. This speech was presented by John P. Halligan, Ryan
Halligan's father. On October 7, 2003 Ryan Halligan committed suicide. Through this
presentation, his father had explained his sons story
Meier, Tina. "Megan's Story." Speech. Through a presentation, Tina Meier, the mother of Megan
Meier, shares her Daughter's story. Megan was a victim of cyber bullying which had caused her
suicide in October 2006.
Messias, Erick, Kristi Kindrick, and Juan Castro. "School Bullying, Cyberbullying, Or both:
Correlates of Teen Suicidality in the 2011 CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey." Comprehensive
psychiatry 55.5 (2014): 1063-8. ProQuest. Web. 8 Dec. 2014. The authors of this database are
Erick Messias, Kristi Kindrick and Juan Castro. Messias is a part of the Department of

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Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, John Hopkins University. The authors argue that suicide is
among th top causes of death among teenagers. They also mention that school bullying is a major
risk factor for suicide. This relates to my paper because the main focus of my research paper is
how bullying and cyber bullying is the main cause for the increase in teen suicide rates.
Pirruccello, Linda M. "Preventing Adolescent Suicide: A Community Takes Action."
Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services 48.5 (2010): 34-41. ProQuest Psychology
Journals. Web. 4 Dec. 2014. <http://0-search.proquest.com.wave.lccc.edu/psychology/docview>.
The author, Linda Pirrucello, is an assistant professor of nursing at California State University.
Throughout this database, a project is described where two nurses carried out a project to try and
prevent further teen suicide. The author describes the scope of the problem, risk and protective
factors, risk factors, protective factors, suicide prevention approaches, community suicide
prevention project, the project goals, project planning, project prevention strategies, project
budget, pilot survey, the preliminary outcomes and the conclusion. This illuminates my research
topic because i will be describing ways to prevent teen suicide within my paper and this source
tells me how to do so.
Smokowski, Paul R,PhD., M.S.W., Caroline B. R. Evans M.S.W., and Katie L. Cotter M.S.W.
"The Differential Impacts of Episodic, Chronic, and Cumulative Physical Bullying and
Cyberbullying: The Effects of Victimization on the School Experiences, Social Support, and
Mental Health of Rural Adolescents." Violence and victims 29.6 (2014): 1029-46.ProQuest. Web.
16 Dec. 2014. This article is written by Paul Smokowski, Caroline Evans, and Katie Cotter.
Through this article, the authors describe both the short and long term effects of bullying and
cyber bullying. This will help connect to my research paper because it will how the negative
effects of bullying and how it leads to teen suicide.

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Stauffer, Sterling, et al. "High School Teachers' Perceptions Of Cyberbullying Prevention And
Intervention Strategies." Psychology In The Schools 49.4 (2012): 352-367. Academic Search
Complete. Web. 8 Dec. 2014. The author is affiliated with Brigham Young University. In the
article, the author studied high school teachers perception on cyber bullying. One-fourth of the
teachers felt that cyber bullying does not have long lasting effects and that it prepares them for
life. This source helps include different viewpoints on cyber bullying and its affects to my paper.
Works Cited

Kirkey, Sharon. "Bullying Not Only Factor in Teen Suicide; Depression, Conflicts with Parents
Play Bigger Role, New Report Says." Edmonton JournalDec 19 2014. ProQuest. Web. 20 Jan.
2015 . The author of this article is Sharon Kirkey. This article describes how bullying is not the
only cause of suicide and that the majority of suicide victims were diagnosed with depression.
This will help with the counter argument of my research paper.