Cyber-bullying a risk factor in suicide: report. [, by Katherine Donnelly, 21/05/14]

However, although cyber-bullying is a risk factor in suicide, where young people have attempted to take their own lives it is not the only reason. Attempted suicide occurs in conjunction with other risk factors, such as mental health difficulties and family problems, the report found.

The report provides an overview of existing research on the prevalence and impact of bullying linked to social media on the mental health and suicidal behaviour among school-aged children.

Author, Dr Helen Gleeson, who was commissioned by the Department of Education and the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention, also looked at the most effective means of intervening in cases of cyber-bullying and ways to prevent it.

It was published at the launch of the new national Anti-Bullying Centre in Dublin City University (DCU), by Education Minister Ruairi Quinn and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore. The centre has transferred from Trinity College where it was established 18 years ago.

Although Dr Gleeson found some inconsistencies in existing research, such as in the levels of cyber-bullying reported, there was also common ground.


Cyber-bullying is less prevalent than traditional forms of bullying, but most young people involved in cyber-bullying also tend to have experience of traditional bullying.

In Ireland, 24pc of children reported experiencing traditional bullying, while 4pc reported experiencing cyber-bullying, rising to 9pc-10pc for mid-adolescents.

Dr Gleeson found that most research suggests that the bullying experience is likely to exacerbate existing mental health difficulties, such as anxiety or depression, which, in turn, may increase the risk of harm of suicidal ideation.

She said experiencing cyberbullying was most likely to be one of a complex range of factors that contribute to poor mental health and self harm or suicide ideation among young people.

Girls are at greater risk of negative impacts of being cyberbullied, but may be more likely to seek support than boys.


It’s widely reported in the media coverage of this report that 4% of students are cyber bullied, rising to 9-10% for mid adolescents. Research from the ABC found that a lot of young people don’t recognise that what is happening to them is cyberbullying. They see it as something that happens to others. Consequently they under report. Education needed to empower these students.