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Eur Psychiatry. 2011 Nov;26(8):498-503. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2010.11.006. Epub 2011 Feb 9.

Victims of bullying in childhood and suicide attempts in adulthood.

Author information

1
Department of Health Sciences, College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology, University of Leicester, 22-28, Princess Road West, Leicester LE1 6TP, UK. hm74@le.ac.uk

Abstract

PURPOSE:

To examine whether self-reported exposure to bullying during childhood is associated with suicide attempts over the life course, and if so, what mechanisms could account for this relationship.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS:

A random probability sample comprising 7461 respondents was interviewed for the 2007 survey of psychiatric morbidity of adults in Great Britain. Survey respondents were asked about suicidal attempts and whether they were bullied in childhood.

RESULTS:

Recall of being bullied in childhood decreased with age from 25% of 16-24-year-olds to 4% among those 75 or over with few differences in the proportions between men and women. Bullying co-occurred with several victimisation experiences including sexual abuse and severe beatings and with running away from home. Even after controlling for lifetime factors known to increase the risk of suicidal behaviour, adults who reported bullying in childhood were still more than twice as likely as other adults to attempt suicide later in life.

DISCUSSION:

Being the victim of bullying involves the experience of suffering a defeat and humiliation that in turn could lead to entrapment, hopelessness, depression and suicidal behaviour.

CONCLUSIONS:

Bullying is already known to be associated with substantial distress and other negative consequences and this further evidence of a strong correlation with the risk of suicide in later life should increase further the motivation of society, services and citizens to act decisively to reduce bullying in childhood.

PMID:
21310592
DOI:
10.1016/j.eurpsy.2010.11.006
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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