Being Bullied Can Lead to Suicide in Kids

| by Dr Gwenn
Last week's suicide of 11 year old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover is a wake-up call to parents and schools everywhere that bullying is not being handled correctly, swiftly or firmly enough to protect the true victims.

Carl's mother told the news that he had been threatened by classmates for six months before he took his life by hanging, and that her cries for help to his charter school had fallen on deaf ears. As reported by the Boston Channel, he was subjected to daily taunts of being called gay, having his clothes made fun of and threats of physical harm.

Carl's experience is disturbingly all too common. Kids are bullied across our country with parents and schools turning a blind eye. Estimates are as high as 30% for both the amount of kids in 6th to 10th grade being bullied and becoming bulliers. Over time, school, health and emotional issues develop in both groups that can linger into adult years if left unaddressed. Many of these kids resort to substance abuse to blunt the pain and some progress to more violent behaviors and truancy.

This is an issue that can impact any child in any type of town and socio-economic class. We are not helping our children or each other's children to pretend it isn't occurring in our communities, or can't occur in our communities. It's time we all acknowledge this is a global problem and help our schools have the resources to help manage these situations better and to teach our kids the skills to know what to do should they find themselves being bullied. This isn't a lesson that can occur just once. It's something that needs to start very young and progress over time. The best anti-bullying programs are actual the ones that focus on fostering a positive school community built on respect and caring. If you do not know what your school has for anti-bullying and community building programs, ask. Such programs not only help but do work.

It saddens me on so many levels that some children are bullied to the point that the see no other out other than suicide. Let's not let another child experience this level of pain again. It's time to take action as a community and stop bullying in all areas of our children's worlds: school, sports, after school programs, summer camps, home, religious schools...everywhere our kids end up is a place that should be safe and bully free.

If you are worried that your child has been bullied, call your pediatrician today.

For more information:

Kids and Bullies (Pediatrics Now)
Stop Bullying Now (HHS website for kids, parents and educators. Very interactive and comprehensive with materials for handouts.)

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