Bullying and Suicide

It is potentially harmful to suggest that bullying frequently leads to suicide when, in fact, the connection between bullying and suicide is very complex.

The connection between bullying and suicide is often oversimplified, when, in fact, it is very complex. Many issues contribute to suicide risk, including depression, substance use, problems at home, and trauma history. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research, it is potentially harmful to suggest that bullying frequently leads to suicide. CDC research indicates that linking suicide with bullying as a direct cause and effect minimizes other possible issues that may lead to suicide. Instead, a more integrated approach should be considered to preventing suicide and youth violence, which focuses on shared risk and protective factors such as:

  • Individual coping skills
  • Family and school social support
  • Supportive school environments

A panel of experts published these and other findings in 2013 on the relationship between these two public health problems in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Also, the Community Action Toolkit – 2012 (PDF | 3.4 MB) offers some cautionary notes to the media and the general public. The toolkit provides suggestions for identifying and responding to bullying, and seeking help when efforts to resolve the matter have not worked and someone may be in immediate danger.

For more information, visit Stopbullying.gov.

In addition, SAMHSA’s Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative (SS/HS) is designed to prevent violence and substance use among our nation’s youth, schools, and communities. SS/HS promotes states and communities working together to address mental health among students, enhance their academic achievement, prevent violence and substance use, and create safe and respectful school environments, including using the latest research and best practices in bullying prevention and interventions – 2012 (PDF | 1.9 MB).

Last Updated: 09/20/2017