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Strike a Chord: Does Bullying Cause Suicide?

Strike a Chord: Bullying and Suicide
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Many anti-bullying campaigns link bullying to suicide. But should they? As part of WFUV's Strike a Chord Campaign on teen suicide prevention, Jeff Coltin finds out.
There must be dozens, or even hundreds of videos like it on Youtube. A teen gets bullied at school, goes home, get bullied online, and then, attempts suicide.
 
They are powerful, and most end with a message of hope: "you can stop bullying, you can prevent suicide."
 
But is it fair to make those connections? That bullying causes suicide? Criminal Justice Professor Justin Patchin said "maybe."
 
"The reality is we really don't know a lot about the nature of this relationship,” he explained. “And what we do know, would lead us to believe that there's something going on there, there's definitely some kind of relationship, it's just difficult to pin down the nature of that relationship."
 
Patchin is co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He said bullying is merely one factor among many that could lead someone to suicide, and more research is needed. 
 
But John Callan, Principal of Brentwood East Middle School on Long Island said that does not mean bullying is any less of a concern.
 
"One of my number one jobs is to promote the heath, safety, and welfare of the students who walk in this building every day. And bullying definitely impacts that,” he said.
 
So Brentwood East has a comprehensive anti-bullying plan - and that includes showing videos where a student is relentlessly bullied.
 
“And in the end you see it fades to black and it shows a tombstone how she killed herself,” Callan recalled. “So the students do realize that this can lead to that, and how we need to not ever have it get to that point."
 
He says it's created an anti-bullying culture, and from that, everyone benefits.

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See our other stories in the Strike a Chord series here:

Friday: Lifeline Workers Support Callers - and Each Other

Wednesday:What's a School to Do?

Tuesday: Remembering a Friend Through a Life of Prevention

Monday:Girls Share a Precious Time After School

Tumblr: Strike a Chord: Teen Suicide Prevention