Tyler Clementi, the New Jersey student who jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his university room mates secretly taped him having sex with another man then broadcast it on the internet, is the latest tragic case of its kind. Teenagers and young adults tormented to suicide is by no means a problem unique to the United States. Iain McKenzie from the BBC writes that Clementi’s story “brings together two contentious issues – gay rights, and cyber bullying.” (Not to mention the magnitude of the issues surrounding personal privacy in the internet age.)
The social worries of young people are all too often treated as trivia, until it’s too late. This is an emotional issue but all I want to do is share a handful of facts.
UK Charity Depression Alliance says there are 19,000 suicide attempts every year by adolescents – that’s one per hour. Experts claim bullying is the cause of at least half of them.
Suicide is the number one cause of death for men between 18-24.
At least 2,100 teenagers killed themselves in the past eight years because of bullying; the actual number is thought by experts to be much higher, because there are so many cases where suicide victims do not specifically declare the reason out of shame or fear.
Experts Neil Marr and Tim Field (co-authors of ‘Bullycide: Death at Playtime’) say that 50% of adults who were bullied as children or teenagers now suffer from a related mental health problem in adulthood.
Brain scans have shown that post-traumatic stress disorder is experienced by around one third of ex-victims, who experience symptoms like nightmares, flashbacks, phobias, headaches, blackouts, involuntary sickness, anger management problems, insomnia, memory irregularities, anxiety, panic attacks, self-loathing, depression and suicidal tendencies.
3 in 5 victims and ex-victims say they find the experience so shameful that the idea of suffering indefinitely is less painful than actually telling anyone.
82 people on Facebook ‘like’ the page “People who kill themselves because of cyber-bullying are stupid.”