The Bully Slayer: The wrong end to bullying

Faces depicted are fictional, not actual to the story | Image composite by Brett Barrett, St. George News

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.

Email me: tsromney@stgnews.com

“Like” The Bully Slayer at www.facebook.com/bullyslayer

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

Faces depicted are fictional, not actual to the story | Image composite by Brett Barrett, St. George News

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4 Comments

  • AmberPalmer December 9, 2012 at 4:12 am

    Bullying is the kind of issue that is never been new to us. This is also the issue that most parents wanted to be tackled and must be stopped from occurring. I do not want my son to be bullied or be part of this fast-growing issue. That is why I provided him a safety service that could protect him and secure his safety. I registered my son to safekidzone because it has a mobile security application that enables my son to summon help from trusted people and with access to the nearest 911 when safety issue arises. For child protection check out: http://safekidzone.com/

  • Matthew Sevald December 10, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Good article. While bullying isn’t new, this kind of bullying that we’re experiencing nowadays is far from anything that can be considered normal childhood jockeying-for-dominance or even just picking on someone for a self esteem boost. There is something gravely amiss in our society when children roam like wolf packs with the deliberate intention to destroy another child down to their very soul. Sadly, especially with our litigious society, but also because of the pack mentality of disproportionate retaliation, gone are the days when a punch to a bully’s nose could end the problem and re-assert your standing and value amongst your peer group. I think our children could learn a lesson from getting their butt handed to them every once in a while when they get out of line with other kids. I’m not advocating hospital trips, but there’s nothing wrong with a self-defense fight as far as I’m concerned. As far as suicides go, I’m not sure what to do other than to show unconditional love for your children, make talking with them a daily occurrence (and don’t accept the “nothing” response!), and be observant for the warning signs.

    • Elizabeth Barlow December 12, 2012 at 2:49 pm

      When you said that they roam in wolf packs and try to hurt each other, I had to laugh bitterly for a second. It seems to me that you just described middle/high school in a few short sentences. I hate to break it to everyone, but as a high schooler, I can honestly say that that’s kind of the point. You don’t go to learn. It’s a rat race, a popularity contest if you will. There have been several occasions when I have had the choice to either back down or flat out tell someone that if they tried that crap on me again I’d knock out all their pearly whites. It’s a constant fight and if you’re not constantly on your guard, you’re going to be in a world of hurt. By the way, the symptoms described above would qualify just about every teen as suicidally depressed. It’s abnormal for an adult or child to feel that way, but puberty (and life) happen to make teens more dramatic and parents often make the mistake of thinking that something serious is going on. When questioned, we often reply “everything!” and slam the door. That’s pretty normal. Unless your kid drastically changes for the worse in a very short period of time, the odds are that they’re just moody and need to get out of the house and away from their heavy metal music. 🙂

  • angela.smith December 17, 2012 at 1:27 am

    Bullying should not be taken lightly — its effects can be long-term for both the bully and the bullied. the negative feelings associated with bullying from profoundly impacting a person’s life in a bad way. Let’s help to avoid this matter. Check this app where in they prioritize our safety. It has cool features like locating us whenever its badly needed, escalate a call to 911 if necessary in just a single press of panic button. Try tp goggle safetrec this may help.

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