In a word, YES. Social media bullying (or cyberbullying) is found to be associated with an increase of suicidal attempts and successful suicides of teens and young adults who are a targets of cyberbullying. Many studies confirm this.
A study conducted in Quebec Canada followed 1,168 children, born between 1997 and 1998, and interviewed each about social media experiences. They found that teens, who have experienced “significant” cyberbullying by the age of 13, are 5.4 to 6.8 percent more likely to attempt suicide two years later at the age of 15 (Geoffroy, et al. 2016). This is devastating. And it does not stop at age 15. Just last week, an 18-year-old committed suicide in response to cyberbullying. She was a senior named Brandy Vela who attended the Texas City Independent School District.
Brandy’s family reports that she was relentlessly bullied about her weight. Her sister Jackie is quoted saying, “People would make up fake Facebook accounts and they would message her and she wouldn’t respond and they would still come at her”. The perpetrators used an untraceable app. Although the cyberbullying was reported to the police and school several times, law enforcement and school officials were not able to help. Brandy’s dad says the bullies created fake social media profiles of Brandy that offered illicit activities from her and used Brandy’s actual phone number so she would receive random calls about the post. Even though the school was notified just before Thanksgiving break (2016), it was all too much.
Brandy somehow made up her mind to end the bullying by ending her life. Even though family members were at home with Brandy, begging her not to pull the trigger, she did.
So I ask……..
What can be done to stop cyberbullying such as making up fake accounts that harass, mock and ruin reputations?
What is the “real” punishment for those who are caught? AND…
Can anything be done to help people understand and care about the consequences of their decisions to relentlessly bully others like this?
Geoffroy, et. Al (2016). Associations between peer victimization and suicidal ideation and suicide attempt during adolescence: results from a prospective population-based birth cohort, Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 55, 22-105.
Ramiraz, P. (2016), Texas teen Brady Vela commits suicide as family looks on after being relentlessly cyperbullied (Video), Inquisitr.