OPINION – We have talked a lot about how to bring about the end of many types of bullying. There is however, a wrong way to bring about the end of bullying; and that way is becoming more and more common … suicide.
According to the website bullystatistics.org, bully victims are between two to nine times more likely to consider suicide than nonvictims, citing studies by Yale University. A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying. And 10-14-year-old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide, according to the study above.
David Q. Phan. On Nov. 29, 2012, just outside of his junior high school in Taylorsville, Utah, chooses this way out. In front of his classmates, at 3 p.m., just moments after school let out, he shot himself. Reports circulating on social media say that he had been subject to bullying. Phan appears to have been a subject of gossip. Administrators and counselors said they checked into reports of bullying long ago and had since maintained close contact with Phan.
Josh Pacheco. Of Fenton, Michigan, Pacheco disclosed to the world that he was gay two months prior to his suicide a month ago. In an interview with the Huffington post, a heartbroken mother, Lynette Capehart, said: “My son was very funny and exceptionally sensitive and loving to other people’s feelings.” Capehart told the publication,”he was having problems with bullying. He didn’t really want to tell us very much … it was very disheartening to me.”
And three days ago, the mother of a 10-year-old girl in California found a suicide note from her daughter. This 10-year-old had been pushed down so hard her ankle sprained. She was the subject of rude and sexual jokes. She had juice poured over her head in the cafeteria. Her shirts have been ripped, and her bottom has been grabbed. She switched classrooms twice in an attempt to get away from the torment. She is in the 5th grade! She is now home for two weeks on the advice of a therapist after the notes surfaced.
In this article, I want to take the time and shed some light on some common early warning signs of depression:
Sadness: According to the National Institutes of Health, feelings of sadness, as well as feeling hopeless, helpless or trapped are signs of depression. Patients who feel constantly trapped or helpless may see death as their only alternative. If the sadness lasts longer than two weeks, it can be a sign of clinical depression and help should be sought.
Thoughts of Death: Thoughts of death, manifested through talking or writing about death and suicide, are a strong indicator of suicide, according to Kevin Caruso, who holds a doctorate in the subject. The patient’s thoughts about death may be subtle or they might be obvious. For example, the patient may keep a journal that contains his thoughts about death or self-harm. In addition, another warning sign of suicide is the patient focusing on dark subjects, like music that glorifies death. However, darker music or books should not be a sign alone for suicide; it should raise warning signs if it is a recent change in the patient’s interests.
Mood Changes: Mood changes, especially dramatic personality changes, are signs of depression, according to the National Institutes of Health. Examples of mood changes that can indicate depression and suicide include agitation, lack of energy, irritability, self-hate and inappropriate guilt. In addition to personality and mood changes, patients may also have difficulty concentrating.
Changes in Sleeping and Eating: Another warning sign of depression and suicide is a change in either sleeping or eating patterns. Examples of sleeping changes include difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much. Patients may also experience a loss of appetite, which can result in a drastic loss of weight.
Loss of Interest: According to Caruso, a warning sign is the patient pulling away from people and losing interest in pleasurable activities. The patient may stop interacting with friends, seem isolated and no longer wish to participate in her favorite activities.
While the above are strong indicators of depression and suicide, they may also be signs of other problems. Parents, teachers, friends, co-workers, and family members should watch for these signs and not be afraid to show concern and interest in their loved one. Let them know you care and are worried about them – that they are not alone and that they should seek medical or psychiatric help, if the situation warrants it.
I am excited to team with St. George News on this column, and hope that you will share experiences, and or stories of bullying with us, so that we may learn and grow together, figuring out the best way to combat this epidemic! Email me, “Like” me on Facebook, Tweet us.
Ed. Note: T.S. Romney is an opinion columnist and a law enforcement officer. Nothing in this column shall be construed as legal advice, as a substitute for professional mental health treatment, as an adjudication of claims, or as acting on behalf of any law enforcement department. T.S. Romney’s opinions and methods are his own and are not representative of St. George News.
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