Cyberbullying and Suicide Rates

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Bauman, Toomey, and Walker in their study sampled a total of 1,491 high school students from a 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey to establish if there was a link between depression and suicide of female students in the study for being cyberbullying victims. From the study, it was observed that depression was the main facilitator in the relationship between bullying/victimization and suicide attempts, but it was manifested differently for males and females. In particular, depression was the main facilitator in the association between traditional victimization and suicide attempts similarly across gender. On the other hand, depression was the main initiator in the connection between cyber victimization and suicide attempts only for female subjects observed in the study. Depression was not observed to be a factor in the connection between cyberbullying and suicide attempts for either gender. In the discussion of the implications of the findings, it is revealed that there is need for greater detection of depression mechanisms among students involved in bullying. In addition, it is concluded that anti-bullying programs need to integrate a a suicide prevention and intervention component within their structure. From the findings, it is implied that bullying prevention efforts should be stretched from middle school students to take in high school students.

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Mason and White in their study observe that while bullying is related many in instances with gangs, it is questionable as to whether bullying, as such, takes place inside gangs. In this context, they provide a critical analysis of bullying as this is related to youth gangs and in particular to violence within gangs, and as connected to the conduct of individual gang members. Mason and White review relevant literature that talks to young men between 12 and 25 years of age with a view to realizing the name of the relationship between bullying and violence within a youth gang context. The young men are drawn from different socioeconomic backgrounds. The gangs are spread across different geographic locations and in communities with mixed socioeconomic background. The studies identified carry out interviews and observations in the fields of study. The case study and interviews are the main research designs used in the studies. From the findings, it is established that bullying is connected with one of the reasons why individuals join gangs and with gang-related behavior. On the other hand, the violence within a gang is of a dissimilar character than that usually defined by the term bullying. Bullying has consequences for associated and/or ensuing types of street violence. However bullying is less relevant for portrayals of violence within a youth gang context as such.

Suzuki, Sourander, Hoven, and Mandell observe that the swift development of electronic and computer-based communication and information sharing in the preceding decade has radically changed social relations, especially among teenagers (2012). Suzuki et al. acknowledge that cyberbullying has appeared as a new form of bullying and harassment. In the studies reviewed, cyberbullying has been observed to possess different consequences from traditional schoolyard bullying. The studies carried out used various sample sizes ranging from 100 to 1200 adolescents from various institutions and backgrounds. The sample size in most instances was sufficient to produce reliable data. The research design in the studies involved was mainly case studies and interviews. The cyberbullying problem has materialized in nations globally. Cybervictims have shown several emotional and behavioral symptoms, besides problems related to school. Suzuki et al. in their review of international cross-sectional studies relating to the definition, prevalence, age, and gender differences manifested in cyberbullying make some important findings. From the studies, it can be established that psychosocial and risk factors connected to cyberbullying are also important in contributing to the overall impact of cyberbullying. The studies conclude that avoidance and intervention approaches for school officials and parents are suggested in the findings. Additionally, the implications for healthcare providers, policy makers, and families is they must be ever mindful of the serious dangers cyberbullying heralds for youths. The studies acknowledge that there is need for longitudinal studies to evaluate the psychological risk factors attached to cyberbullying.

Bottino, Bottino, Regina, and Correia observe that cyberbullying has emerged as a new form of violence that is expressed through electronic media due to the advent of the internet and its platforms (2015). Consequently, the advent of cyberbullying has given rise to concern for parents, educators and researchers. In their paper, Bottino et al., seek to understand the association between cyberbullying and adolescent mental health, which will be evaluated through a methodical review of two databases: PubMed and Virtual Health Library (BVS). The frequency of cyberbullying fluctuated from 6.5% to 35.4% from the sample population observed (Bottino et al., 2015). Preceding or recent experiences of traditional bullying were related with victims and committers of cyberbullying. Everyday use of up to three or more hours of Internet, web camera, text messages, posting personal information and distressing others online were linked with cyberbullying. Victims of cyberbullying and cyberbullies had more emotional and psychosomatic problems, social troubles and did not feel safe and cared for in school. Cyberbullying was connected with moderate to severe depressive indicators, substance use, ideation and suicide attempts. From the findings, it implies health professionals should be aware of the violent nature of interactions occurring in the virtual environment and its harm to the mental health of adolescents.

The review by Bottino et al. (2015) encompassed studies on the frequency of cyberbullying and its relationship with mental health issues among adolescents in the general populace. The findings indicate that various cyberbullying definitions have been put forward in the literature, referring to some aggressive, hostile, or harmful act that is carried out by a bully through an unstipulated type of electronic device. For the purposes of their review, Bottino et al. (2015) used the following definition of cyberbullying. Their purpose was to uniting the concepts that are presented in the literature: an intentional act of aggression towards another person online (Bottino et al., 2015, p. 464). The term Mental health problems was used to refer to a distinguishable set of emotional difficulties, symptoms or manners connected to substantial anguish and considerable intrusion into personal functions.

The review by Bottino et al. (2015) involved taking samples from the population of adolescents who were attending the 6th to 12th grades, or of age between 10 and 17 years. Pervasiveness of cyberbullying ranged between 6.8% to 35.4% from the studies reviewed (Bottino et al., 2015). For instance, in one study, whose participants were engaged from a popular website, the prevalence was greater: 72%. Studies used a varying number of questions to investigate cyberbullying. Conversely, the content of questions was related and were associated to having received or sent messages with the purpose of humiliating or instigating shame, with pressures or disclosure of personal information, photographs or photo montage using electronic media, such as internet or mobile phone. The findings from the review of the studies reveal that adolescents who were victims of cyberbullying and traditional school bullying reported more depressive symptoms and higher scores on the suicidal ideation and suicidal behavior scale, as well as more suicide attempts that demanded medical treatment (Bottino et al., 2015, p. 471). Hinduja & Patchings study established that there is the higher likelihood of attempting suicide up to twice as high among victims and aggressors, as compared to those not participating in cyberbullying. In their review, Bottino et al. (2015) observed all types of traditional bullying and cyberbullying were connected to more suicidal thoughts among victims and offenders.

The observations by Bottino et al., Suzuki et al., and Bauman, Toomey, and Walker differ from the Mason and Whites to a significant extent. While White and Mason attribute the prevalence of cyberbullying to gangs and gang mentality, the rest of the studies attribute it to social factors that are based on individual desire to cause harm on the part of the perpetrators. White and Mason consider gang affiliations as the main motivation for perpetrators of cyberbullying. However, the other studies observe that cyberbullying stems from an individual perspective in most cases. Both the victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying have been observed to express some form of psychological or psychosocial damage as stated by Bottino et al. (2015) in their study.

Chang, Lee, Chiu, His and Huang in their study of relationships among cyberbullying, school bullying, and mental health in Taiwanese adolescents used a survey involving 2992 10th grade students recruited from 26 high schools in Taipei, Taiwan (2010). 2992 10th grade students recruited from 26 high schools filled questionnaires. The respondents were from both genders. Based on the sample size, the results of the study were backed in their credibility and reflection of the real picture. The schools were spread across the city in different socioeconomic settings. From the survey Chang et al., (2013) determined that over one third of students had, either taken part in cyberbullying or had been the object (cybervictim) of it in the past year. An estimated 18.4% reported they had been cyberbullied (cybervictim) in the same period. In the same period, 5.8% had victimized others online (cyberbully), while 11.2% had both taken part in cyberbullying others and been cyberbullied (cyberbully-victim) in the same duration. While in school, about 8.2% had been victims of bullying in school (victim); 10.6% had taken part in bullied others (bully) while 5.1% had participated in both bullying others and had been bullied in school (bully-victim). The findings also showed that students who were in the category with high internet risk behaviors were more highly likely to be involved in cyberbullying and/or online victimization. The study also established that students who had cyberbullying or victimization experiences also were more likely to be involved in school bullying/victimization. In the study, it was also established that without regard for sex, academic performance, and household poverty, cyber/school victims and bully-victims were more highly likely to show lower self-esteem, and cyber/school victims, bullies and bully-victims were at a greater risk for getting serious depression. In their study, Chang et al. conclude that both cyberbullying and school bullying and/or victimization experiences were all autonomously linked with increased depression (2013).

Other studies indicate that emotional intelligence has a role to play in victimization of teenagers online and the impact it has on emotions. Elipe et al., observe that the detrimental effects of traditional bullying and, recently, cyberbullying on victims are widely known, and ample empirical evidence from research exists for it (2015). As the authors observe, for cybervictimization, it has an effect on areas for instance academic performance, social integration and self-esteem, and leads to expression of emotions ranging from anger and sadness to more multifaceted problems such as depression. As observed by Elipe et al., cybervictimization does not affect all victims to the same e...

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