Students, Teachers Eye Bullying as Cause of Teen Suicides
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|April 17, 2012|
Preventing teen suicides remains a top priority among school administrators in north east Louisiana. The Ouachita Parish School district has suffered the loss of six students who have died by their own hand over the past twenty months.
School officials and students have identified bullying as factor that can lead to suicide.
Sixteen-year-old Hamilton Winters is a junior at West Monroe High School.
He has lost people close to him in what epidemiologists call a “cluster” of suicides.
Teens Talk about Bullying, Emotional Fragility
Winters says a teenager’s lack of maturity can result in threatening behavior.
“I think that teenagers are always going to be hostile towards each other. Not all teenagers are going to be hostile, but there’s still going to be some hostility towards each other.”
Still, even knowing that teenagers sometimes bully others, the results come as a shock. Seventeen-year-old Connor Smith attends West Monroe High School. He says the fact that so many fellow-students have taken their own lives comes as the worst kind of surprise.
“I didn’t know that teenagers were that capable of doing it. Like, I’ll see people in school that – maybe they’re a little off, maybe they’re a little different from somebody else – they’re struggling, they’re going through something. I didn’t realize this many students were – that it would be that easy for them to take their own life.”
Psychologist Weighs in on Bullying Issue
Ouachita Parish School Psychologist, Flint Smith, says bullying can be fatal.
“Well if you look at the bullying – just the issue of bullying it’s definitely more of a problem. It’s much easier to bully someone – different types of bullying. But if you have what we call a precipitating event, you know ‘I’ve had it, man’ and then someone keeps bullying me, bullying can be a very triggering event.”
Bullying is no longer confined to the school yard. Hamilton Winters raises the specter of cyber-bullying.
“I think we have to deal with it in different ways as technology increases and as our world moves into a forward progress.”
He means that it’s not longer possible for people – especially teenagers – to simply forget nasty, offhand comments. Such comments appear frequently on social media sites.
“Whatever you put on Face Book or Twitter or wherever you want to put it on the Internet – I don’t think that teenagers nowadays know as well as they should that that’s always going to be there. You can’t erase it. It’s always going to be on the Internet for someone to find. And the way they react to this subject isn’t in your control.”
But taking an active role in preventing more suicides is within the grasp of students and teachers through raising awareness.
The Ouachita Parish school system has held community events aimed at preventing further tragedies. The district is also now training faculty to spot signs of suicidal behavior so that they can intervene.
Air Date: Tue, 04/17/2012