Category Archives: Bullying, Suicide

POV – Constant Bullying may have a Mental Health and Academic Affect on Children over Time

Previous surveys on bullying indicate 70% of middle and high school students experience bullying. Most of us have been bullied. 20-40% report having bullied or been part of bullying during the school year.

First bullying in schools is unacceptable. As a psychologist and former high school teacher, bullying is serious. The difficulty is focusing on children’s social life of rejection by peers, group recognition, few friends, when bullying is aggressive and constant. There is no doubt constant bullying may have a mental health and academically affect children over time.

The research from Boston Children’s Hospital is one of the few longitudinal studies on bullying and mental health. This study is significant in that it followed 4300 children over a five-year period with computer generated questions in the home in 5th, 7th and 10th grade. The results found 30% had been bullied.

This study indicated bullying is more likely to result in deterioration in poor mental health and often leads to poor academic performance in the student bullied.

What is the definition of bullying? As children, we all experience bullying as a normal part of growing up. How often it occurs is part of studies, which define bullying.

The limitation of this study is in the lack of definition for bullying and there is no causal relationship that directly links bullying and mental health problems.

Peer Harassment is an issue. If it is physical contact, it is threatening behavior. If it is verbal only, it is contingent on the child’s perception of the situation of the “bullying” that occurred.

The worst effect is continuous bullying.

As a psychologist, the question arises in regards to the definition of bullying. What is the relationship related to the psychological effect on the child who is being bullied? Could it be the psyche of the victim? Therefore, are esteem, confidence and mental health affected? Does bullying lead to mental health issues, particularly in depression, and suicidal thoughts?

In a normal process of growing up, most of us experience bullying. We all have an experience that we remember and learn from. It stays with us.

Yet, it does not have long-term effects on our mental health and academic achievement. Many normal children learn to find and form their supportive peer groups.

The question is why does bullying for some children have a devastating effect and does not enable them to handle the rite of passage pre-teens go through?

First, there is no profile of who will be a bully. Sometimes they are regular students.

Bullying has become more prevalent over the years. Suicide has occurred in a small minority of those, who are bullied. With the text messages, Facebook and cyber-technology, bullying is a bigger problem. If it becomes personal, threatening and approaches physical abuse it is serious.

This study indicates that continuous bullying may cause serious mental health issues, low esteem, anxiety, depression, and lower academic success in the object of the bullying.

The difficulty is there is no “cause and affect” linkage. The bullying and school climate are linked. It is necessary to continue research and have programs to acknowledge the seriousness of bullying, while developing clearer definitions and defined psychological aspects of what, how and why bullying leads to overwhelming behaviors on those being bullied.

Mindy McCready – committed suicide

Statistically, women comprise only 1/4 of those who commit suicide.  Usually with women, their suicide attempts are a cry for help.

Mindy McCready was, obviously, in that category. She had attempted multiple times and the last time slit her wrists.   Normally, women have a higher incident of depression, sometimes escalating to attempted suicide.

Psychologically, how could this celebrity downward spiral to this extent without a court-mandated order for her commitment to a facility?

At what point, does our system fail?

This is a horrible tragedy.  With her history of drug and alcohol abuse, multiple suicide attempts and serious depression, where were the mental health care professional?

I know the father of her child and her father had filed for “involuntary admission” to a facility.  I am unclear when this occurred, but I am sure we will find out.

McKnight (the father of the 6 year old) had filed in 2011 and three weeks ago when Mindy’s current fiancé committed suicide. This was a cry for help.  Psychologically, she needed help!

Even if she had been admitted to the hospital she would have been safe for a time. She would not be able to get out of bed without an alarm going off and they would have been able to monitor her and make the decision for an appropriate facility.

Emergency room visits from addiction in 2004 to 2009; have drastically increased from 63 – 117% depending on the addiction (drugs and/or alcohol).

What went wrong?  Did no one know her boyfriend had died three weeks ago and realize this as a red signal to a potential crisis?  Even, if it was a call the police for psychological evaluation.

The concern is what can we do legally, as psychological professionals to monitor any person who is suffering from depression, drug and alcohol abuse and serious signs of suicide risk.

Recidivism rates for drug rehabilitation facility admissions rate varies.

I interviewed the Director of 17 rehabilitation centers.  He told me that there was a 95% recidivism rate.  That is only a 5% long-term success.

There are three goals of the rehab facility; 1) Medically supervised withdrawal.  2) Minimum coping skills.  3) A 28-30 day program.  All a rehab facility attempts to do is treat their addiction, withdrawal and never addressed psychological underlining reasons for their addiction.  In addition, only 11% of chemically dependent people seek help from a rehab center.

Sentencing a person to a court order rehab program is really not helping them.  These rehab centers treat the symptoms and not the cause.  There may only be one counselor or psychologist on the site. These centers were never designed for psychological problems.  It may be the reason we hear about stars like Lindsey Lohan continuing to be in rehab facilities over and over with no effective resolution.

I would suggest a better way is a combination of the 30 day rehab and then on-going weekly treatment for a minimum of one year by a psychologist or counselor to get down to the root problem of their addiction. If this had happened, perhaps, it could have prevented her suicide. If she had missed an appointment, she would have violated probation and could have been mandated to a residential treatment facility.