Kelsey April 15th, 2011 Bullying and Suicide
Kelsey Ruch Research Paper Dr.
Denise Greenwood Due: April 15th, 2011 Bullying and Suicide On November 5, 2010, Brandon Bittner, a 14 year old boy from Mount Pleasant Mills, Pennsylvania walked six miles in the middle of the night to take his own life. Brandon left a note for his family and friends stating that he was being bullied by his peers and could not handle it any longer. Brandon even went so far as to ask his parents to find enough strength to make sure this did not happen to anyone else.Friends of Brandon state that he was bullied because of his sexual orientation, the way he dressed, and the music he listened to. The superintendent also stated that Brandon took his life a few days after they had an assembly on anti-bullying but does not believe the two situations were related.
With a situation as traumatic and heart wrenching as the one just described, the first thing any parent would do is find someone to blame. And that’s exactly what the parents and friends of Brandon did.They pressed blame on his peers for bullying him so much that he felt the need to take his own life and they blamed administrators and staff for not recognizing it sooner and handling the situation properly. However, Brandon’s family and friends were wrong. Like most of us, they are not aware that bullying is not the main cause of suicide among teens. Research has shown that suicide is the “third leading cause of death among teens” (Teen Suicide Statistics), but other underlying factors are involved.
Some of the underlying factors that contribute to teen suicide include psychological disorders, physical or sexual abuse, and parents who may be experiencing separation or divorce. Statistics have shown that “approximately 95% of people who die by suicide have a psychological disorder at the time of death” (Nock 1). Some of the most common disorders include depression, bipolar disorder, and alcohol or drug use. Depression can make some teens feel worthless and make them feel as if they have few or no friends. They have a hard time communicating with thers because usually people suffering from depression spend a lot of time by themselves.
They lose friendships, relationships with family, and sometimes lose serious, committed relationships. Also, teens using alcohol or drugs tend to have a limited number of friends as well. No students who want to graduate high school and go off to college would involve themselves with other students who are actively involved in drugs. For that sole reason, students who participate in alcohol and or drug abuse tend to have fewer friends than those who do not.Possessing some of these characteristics may cause some students to be bullied in school, which in turn could cause a student to feel that taking his or own her life is initially the only way out.
Notice, as stated in the previous paragraph, bullying combined with other underlying factors may cause a student to take their own life, but the research provided has shown that bullying alone is not the cause. Today, most of the depressed teenagers seeing professionals are those who are popular and have what they desire and need. Those students are not typically bullied in school but due to being depressed, may still commit suicide.If a depressed, yet popular and financially set teenager commits suicide, the parents of that child cannot blame bullying if it was never a factor in the first place. Yet, when the situation arises, most of them do. This happens because it is difficult for a parent to admit that something was ever emotionally or physically wrong with their child in the first place, so the easiest thing to do is blame someone else. But what if they blame the wrong person? According to KidsHealth, another contributing factor to teen suicide is physical or sexual abuse.
Teens that are sexually or physically abused at home or by a family friend tend to have issues expressing themselves in a school setting. They become distant from their friends, the way they dress changes because they try to hide the scares and bruises underneath, and their grades may start to slip. Again, as stated before, all of these factors may cause peers to bully that particular student.
Students’ may be bullied for the things they wear, they may be considered “stupid” because their grades start to slip, and in the meantime, these students doing the ullying have no idea what this person is experiencing at home. Eventually the bullying and the abuse at home will cause students to look for a way out. Usually they won’t speak up about the abuse at home because they are worried about being accused of lying. There are no friends to talk to about the situation because the distance between friends has grown and the grades will continue to slip because the students will eventually give up at and stop trying. In the students’ mind, the only way they feels they can escape reality is to take their own life.But again, in this situation, is the only cause bullying? According to a website dealing with divorce statistics, “the divorce rate in America to date is 45% to 50%” (Divorce Statistics), and these numbers are increasing each year.
It’s easy to assume that another cause to teen suicide would be separation or divorce among parents. When analyzing this situation, parents do not know how much this actually affects their children. It’s emotionally and physically draining on a teenager and can have a greater effect than anyone really considers.Not to mention all the other problems teenagers are already dealing with. In their opinion, the last thing they need is their parents getting divorced. One of the problems that a teenager may already be experiencing when their parents say they are getting a divorce is bullying.
At this point, the student doesn’t bother to communicate with their parents about the bullying situation because they feel the divorce is enough stress already. Also, the teenager may start to feel ignored or neglected because the divorce is consuming his or her parents time and their focus is elsewhere.These combining factors may cause the teenager to feel useless and unwanted and eventually commit suicide. Again, bullying in this situation is not the only cause of the death of a student. The stress and discomfort of all the other situations in this student’s life and the bullying at school are the underlying factors.
Brandon Bittner’s story is tragic to say the least. A young teenager should never feel as down and out as he did to go as far as taking his or her own life. If Brandon could do it over again, I would hope that he would find some other sort of outlet.That outlet could be talking to a professional, pouring himself into his school work, or expressing himself through writing or music. In my opinion, though, I do not believe that bullying is the only thing that caused Brandon to do what he did. I did not know Brandon well enough to suggest something else may have been wrong, but I have a hard time believing there wasn’t. What the news doesn’t show you or what his parents don’t tell you are the underlying factors that may have been going on in Brandon’s life.
I am not assuming that anything else was wrong with Brandon, but would he admit it if there were?Maybe his parent’s weren’t even aware. But this situation is similar to the ones we are hearing in the news all the time, the parents were looking for someone to blame, and the easiest person to blame was the students doing the bullying and the administrators who did nothing to stop it. But it’s not just my opinion.
Other sources have concluded that bullying is not the main cause of suicide. As stated in a school psychology review, “it was then hypothesized that heterosexual students would report less depression and suicidal feelings and less alcohol and marijuana use then sexually questioning or LGB students” (Koeing 206).It is easy to make the assumption that Koeing did because heterosexuals are not questioning their sexuality, let alone being bullied about it. Students who are homosexual are constantly ridiculed for being gay and this can lead to depression. Depression combined with constant ridicule can cause a student to end their lives. If the student wasn’t being bullied for his sexual orientation, he probably would not have considered suicide in the first place. Again, as stated before, bullying is not the only cause in this type of situation.
Parents and friends who suffer from the loss of a loved one because of suicide need to analyze the entire situation before pressing blame on the first person they deem fit. Am I saying I agree with bullying in schools? No, I do not. I believe it is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with in a timely manner before it causes any more trouble than it already has. In a nutshell, I am not naive enough to believe that bullying from peers in a middle school or high school setting are enough to cause a teen to commit suicide. I was bullied in middle school and in high school I finally decided I wouldn’t deal with it anymore.
I took the steps I needed to better myself and suicide was not one of them. I refuse to have someone tell me that the reason I did not commit suicide was because I am female. Yes, statistics show that “males are four times more likely to die from suicide than females” (Teen Suicide Statistics), but that doesn’t mean every male who is bullied actually commits suicide. In my opinion, bullying from peers in school combined with some sort of psychological disorder, physical or sexual abuse, or divorce may cause a student to take his or her own life but to say that bullying alone would cause someone to commit suicide is irrational and unethical.