Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, December 20, 2014

At-Risk Psyches

"As described in a recent editorial, 'Conveying that bullying alone causes suicide at best minimizes, and at worst ignores, the other factors that may contribute to death by suicide."
"Bullying was present in six deaths and it was the only identified contributing factor in fewer than five deaths."
"There were no deaths [in the study of coroner records] where online or cyberbullying was detected."
"It may be that bullying victims in large cities such as Toronto are less isolated, have more options in their social sphere and better access to mental health treatment, all of which may be protective."
Researchers, Toronto Sunnybrook Health Science Centre

"...And it's no surprise that in almost half of the cases [of suicide] these kids had a depression."
"If you do a psychological autopsy, what you learn is that these kids were struggling -- they may not have been on people's radars, but they were clearly struggling with mood disorders."
"[Conflicts with family or peers may push youth to] where they become quite hopeless, or they become overwhelmed with the stresses that they're managing. That's when they start to think of suicide as an option to deal with the overwhelming stress."
Dr. Hazen Gandy, psychiatrist, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario
Amanda Todd's twitter+facebook profile and Kody Maxson's twitter+facebook

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth between the ages of 15 to 25 in Canada, after accidents. Researchers collected data from charts of the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario to study the death by suicide of young people in Toronto between 1998 and 2011. Charts consisting of a coroner's investigation report and pathology report, alongside interviews made up the research material.

The search was conducted for tell-tale stressors that might hint at the desperation to come: being "teased, ridiculed, tormented, assaulted, or otherwise harassed by peers", along with disagreements with parental authority, school grades status, relationships sundered and diagnoses of mental health problems. More than two-thirds of the suicide victims were male; the mean age was 16.8-years.

The records of 94 youth who had committed suicide in Toronto over that fourteen-year period found that bullying alone factored in at 6.4% of the deaths. Depression, on the other hand, and conflicts with parents played a much larger role in the decision by a teen to end life, according to the study conclusion. At 21 percent struggles with parents represented the most common stressor, followed by 17 percent for problems with girl/boyfriends, school problems at 11 percent, and criminal or legal troubles at a matching 11 percent.

In forty percent of the suicides, depression was a motivating factor. Bullying as a causative was "relatively rare", according to the study, published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. No family members of those committing suicide were interviewed for the study for a possible deeper understanding of circumstances. The study acknowledged the possibility that parents might have been unaware of their child's exposure to bullying.

It was established, however, that bullying remains a risk factor for depression or suicidal thinking "months or years after it occurs"; in that the torment experienced by bullying may surface at some future time, though related to the past, leading to depression. Of vital importance, since depression was cited as a 38% factor in committing suicide among the young.

A possible source of misunderstanding or misattribution could be held to the fact that all the study subjects came from the Toronto area. Where in reality, most of the recent cases of bullying in the news that have been held responsible for teens taking their own lives have taken place in smaller, sometimes rural communities. Toronto, they stated, presumably gives youth more options in social spheres and access to mental health treatment, which may lead to more positive outcomes.

The obvious vectors of bullying that are noted in today's technical world of social media, are Twitter, Facebook and other sites, leading to the thought that cyberbullying may now play a larger role in and beyond 2014 than it did in 1998, data for which the study began its examination into the prevalence of youth suicides and its causes. "But I think bullying in the big picture will still remain one of -- and only one of -- several other factors", added Dr. Gandy.

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