We have been discussing the impact of bullying on adolescents. Bullying can leave devastating social and psychological consequences on a teenager that can be life-dominating. Derogatory labels placed on our teenagers can leave them with emotional scars that may change the course of their lives. Guilt, shame, embarrassment, humiliation and depression are all part of the affects of bullying that can lead to very scary and lasting results.
In some instances, the teenager just cannot cope with the humiliating set of circumstances resulting from bullying. We already know that adolescents are still maturing in every aspect of their lives. The consequence-center in their brains is not yet fully developed; so, their thinking about their options can sometimes be dramatic and absolute. Therefore, suicide can seem like a viable option to heal their pain and allow them to escape what they may perceive to be unrelenting torment.
What is bullycide?
The term coined is “bullycide.” It refers to instances where teenagers are literally “bullied to death!” The impact of bullying has been the major cause of the teenager’s commiting suicide.
I was amazed to discover several Bullycide Memorials on the Internet that cites the names and ways that these individuals have committed suicide. These are tragic situations where teenagers have reached a point where they can no longer tolerate the bullying inflicted on them, so they decide to take prescription drugs, illegal drugs, use a firearm or find other ways to commit suicide.
Situations like these leave a community in shock. Friends, school staff, family members and many others feel its severity. There is grief, loss and the desire or need to hold someone responsible for such a tragedy.
Often, other teenagers are involved who become subject to prosecution. There are questions: who knew, who ignored what they knew and who could have prevented the outcome? The echo of grief, pain and loss that extends to everyone involved permits no ability to undo the surreal and tragic consequences of bullycide.
Bullycide can create a cascade of pain
The gravity of bullycide situations along with the devastating affects impacting a whole community calls all of us who are caregivers for teenagers to a sense of urgency. We need to be on red alert when we see evidences of bullying.
Whether we are teachers, school administrators, church youth leaders, coaches, family members, friends or parents of friends, each of us should have his or her antennae high on this issue. We should be agents of action and do everything we can to insure the physical, relational and emotional safety of our teenagers.
We have witnessed too many moments where whole communities are grieving and dealing with lifelong consequences whether for the family of the victim of bullycide or those who are accused and sometimes convicted of offenses that may have caused such a tragedy.
Gerry Vassar, President and CEO, Lakeside Educational Network