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    Cyberbullying Does Not 'Cause' Teen Suicide
    By News Staff | October 20th 2012 10:13 AM | 40 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    While it makes for convenient mainstream media news pieces to draw convenient lines between cyber-bullying and suicide and thus declare that ending bullying would end suicides, it's not so simplistic, notes research from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans. Most teen suicide victims are bullied both online and in school, and many suicide victims also suffer from depression.

    For "Cyberbullying and Suicide: A Retrospective Analysis of 41 Cases," the researchers examined Internet reports of youth suicides where cyberbullying was implicated as a factor. Information about demographics and the event itself were then collected through searches of online news media and social networks. Finally, descriptive statistics were used to assess the rate of pre-existing mental illness, the co-occurrence of other forms of bullying, and the characteristics of the electronic media associated with each suicide case. 

    The study identified 41 suicide cases (24 female, 17 male, ages 13 to 18) from the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.  24 percent of teens were the victims of homophobic bullying, and half of those identified as homosexual and the other half identified as heterosexual or of unknown sexual preference. 

    Suicides most frequently occurred in September (15 percent) and January (12 percent) although in such a small sample these higher rates may have occurred by chance. The incidence of reported suicide cases increased over time, with 56 percent occurring from 2003 to 2010, compared to 44 percent from January 2011 through April 2012.

    78 percent of adolescents who committed suicide were bullied both at school and online, only 17 percent were targeted online only. A mood disorder was reported in 32 percent of the teens, and depression symptoms in an additional 15 percent.

    "Cyberbullying is a factor in some suicides, but almost always there are other factors such as mental illness or face-to-face bullying," said study author John C. LeBlanc, MD, MSc, FRCPC, FAAP. "Cyberbullying usually occurs in the context of regular bullying."

    Cyberbullying occurred through various media and text or video messaging was noted in 14 cases.

    "Certain social media, by virtue of allowing anonymity, may encourage cyberbullying," said Dr. LeBlanc. "It is difficult to prove a cause and effect relationship, but I believe there is little justification for anonymity."

    Comments

    There is simply no evidence in the study to support the claim made in your headline. The sample is much too small to support much in the way of inference. If anything, that most of the suicides did involve cyberbullying suggests the opposite of the headline claim. What the study does not support is the idea that only cyberbullying causes suicide. But of course that's trivially true. It’s not even ‘news’.

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    "Cyberbullying is a factor in some suicides, but almost always there are other factors such as mental illness or face-to-face bullying," said study author John C. LeBlanc, MD, MSc, FRCPC, FAAP. "Cyberbullying usually occurs in the context of regular bullying."
    Can the moderators at Science20 please explain why this title 'Cyberbullying Does Not 'Cause' Teen Suicide' is being allowed to remain here on a science site? The title is totally misleading because it should instead say something like 'Cyberbullying is the Sole Factor in 17% of Teen Suicides'

    Cyberbullying can cause teen suicide, as can face-to-face bullying, physical harm, mental illness, depression, social isolation, ill-health, poverty, sexual exploitation and many other factors either on their own or collectively. It is however, downright misleading to have a title that says that cyberbullying does not 'cause' teen suicide when there are thousands of teenagers who claim to have committed suicide primarily because of cyberbullying! 

    Of course there were also other factors in every single case, it is difficult not to be pathologically depressed as you take an overdose or slash your wrists and any psychologist in the vicinity or even after the event, clutching their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) would label the teenager committing or who had committed suicide as suffering from a mental disorder, so what on earth does that prove? Not that cyberbullying didn't cause their suicide and neither does the paper referenced in this article claim that. It reports that :-
    Seventy-eight percent of adolescents who committed suicide were bullied both at school and online, and only 17 percent were targeted online only. A mood disorder was reported in 32 percent of the teens, and depression symptoms in an additional 15 percent.

    Photo of Amanda Todd from WikipediaThe recent death this month of 15 year old, Canadian teenager Amanda Todd was a clear case of ongoing cyberbullying causing her suicide. Yes, she was also bullied face to face, physically assaulted and sexually expoited, she inevitably suffered from depression and moved schools and locations but it was the cyberbullying that followed her from school to school and to each new location, so it was insidious and completely inescapable, no matter how hard she tried. Amanda Todd tells her own story of why cyberbullying caused her to commit suicide on Youtube  here, was she also wrong?
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    Obviously cyberbullying can't singularly cause suicide, but it would be the height of irresponsibility to suggest that it is never a contributing factor.

    Regardless, anyone that tolerates cyberbullying or any kind of bullying is a contributor.  I personally, have no use for nor tolerance for bullies of any type.  It's one thing to have an argument or even a spirited discussion.  Insults may fly, but when one individual is clearly being victimized, then nothing about it involves "participation".

    Especially when others seek out an individual to perpetuate the damage and harm.  I despise bullies.  Those that would exploit those weaker than themselves or take advantage to make themselves feel more powerful ... are simply despicable.  I can't come up with enough words of condemnation for such individuals.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Obviously cyberbullying can't singularly cause suicide, but it would be the height of irresponsibility to suggest that it is never a contributing factor.
    Der, what part of 'Seventy-eight percent of adolescents who committed suicide were bullied both at school and online, and 17 percent were targeted online only' don't you understand Gerhard? 

    If it was bacteria committing suicide would you have the same comprehension problem? Yes cyberbullying was the sole factor so it did singularly cause suicide in 17 % of the cases in this study and it was a significant factor in 78% of the cases. 

    The title of this article is TOTALLY MISLEADING and should be changed, it is just giving ammunition to cyberbullies and helping them to ease their conscience when they have cyberbullied teenagers and anyone else into taking their own lives to escape them! Why won't you change the title?
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    Yes cyberbullying was the sole factor so it did singularly cause suicide in 17 % of the cases in this study and it was a significant factor in 78% of the cases.
    Don't be ridiculous.  You know better.  As you well know, the causes  of suicide depend on a certain psychological disposition and generally depression.  So, while cyberbullying will certainly be a contributing factor to such a situation, your assertion is flat-out wrong to claim that it is the "sole factor".  No one would ever accept such a conclusion.

    I agree that the title is misleading, but, again, you're not reading the comments, you're just reacting.
    Why won't you change the title?
    I certainly hope you're not directing that to me.

    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    I am missing what the drama is about.  If the conclusion of 41 cases - found on the Internet - and the descriptive characteristics of the dead - also guessed at by Internet descriptions - concluded that cyberbullying prevented suicide, the sample size and metholodogy would be jumped on as reasons for dismissal. Instead, the conclusion that cyberbullying was somehow the factor - based on reading descriptions on the Internet - is cause for firm belief?   She disputes 10,000 biologists on GMOs and 10,000 physicists on the LHC but trusts this goofy study without any question at all?

    Like video games, violence on TV and smoking, social scientists are latching onto the latest fad and making correlation-causation arrows for suicide that fit.  A mentally disturbed, sexually abused, physically abused, physically bullied girl decided to end it all solely because of an Internet posting?  Puh-leeze.

    Anyone claiming one thing causes suicide should be fired on the spot.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Anyone claiming one thing causes suicide should be fired on the spot.
    And anyone claiming that cyberbullying does not cause teen suicide should also be fired on the spot, so why do you still have this misleading title to this blog claiming that 'Cyberbullying Does Not 'Cause' Teen Suicide'? BTW I also never said that one thing causes suicide that's why I said earlier that :-
    Of course there were also other factors in every single case, it is difficult not to be pathologically depressed as you take an overdose or slash your wrists and any psychologist in the vicinity or even after the event, clutching their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) would label the teenager committing or who had committed suicide as suffering from a mental disorder, so what on earth does that prove? Not that cyberbullying didn't cause their suicide and neither does the paper referenced in this article claim that. 
    Gerhard agreed that it is the height of irresponsibility to say that cyberbullying is NEVER a contributing factor or in other words as this blog title claims  that cyberbullying does not cause teen suicide, when he said:-
    Obviously cyberbullying can't singularly cause suicide, but it would be the height of irresponsibility to suggest that it is never a contributing factor.
    I was just trying to point out that cyberbullying was definitely a significant factor in 78% of these cases and that in 17% of these cases it was the only factor identified in this study, when I replied :-
    Der, what part of 'Seventy-eight percent of adolescents who committed suicide were bullied both at school and online, and 17 percent were targeted online only' don't you understand Gerhard? 
    Sorry if I didn't word that very well, I definitely didn't mean it was the only factor that caused any teens to suicide. Hank when you said :-
    A mentally disturbed, sexually abused, physically abused, physically bullied girl decided to end it all solely because of an Internet posting?  Puh-leeze.
    Why did you decide to exclude cyberbullying from your description of the contributing factors that may have caused Amanda Todd to commit suicide? Because it would have shown that this Science20 blog title is wrong maybe? Amanda had personally campaigned against cyberbullying and even done a school project on the subject, trying to increase public awareness. She even pleads for help in her Youtube video, so at least credit her with knowing what cyberbullying is and how it had contributed to her appalling situation of never being able to escape from it. Did you watch her Youtube video, if not please watch it here.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Maybe this can end the heated discussion of who's right aand wrong here! Cyberbullying is not the sole factor in suicide just because statistics says so! Statistics are not completely accurate because not EVERY case is reported so to report a true and accurate statistic is has to be drawn on ALL cases! Now when saying cyberbullying is not the sole cause of suicide it is at the readers disgression on how to take that phrase. I see it as a factor in the cause because without the cyberbullying the depression, aggression, and other mental illnesses being displayed by an adolescent or teen is the DIRECT cause due to a child being bullied whether it be at school, work, texting, sexting, or from some sort of other social media. If the child hadnt been bullied they wouldnt be showing symptoms or have been diagnosed with those mental illnesses. Those illnesses then become to much for a child to bear ALONG WITH the continuous cyberbullying, and the end result is suicide. So now that it is explained like that can you now open your mind to the possibility that had the cyberbullying NEVER happened, the child WOULD NOT have committed suicide. So how can you say that cyberbullying isnt the cause of suicide? Im a psychology student doing a presentation on the very subject and came to this article trying to get some statistics, and was very taken back by the lack of knowledge people have about this subject. Before assuming you are correct about a subject this important you might do some research so you arent giving people the wrong impression!!!

    Gerhard Adam
    If the child hadnt been bullied they wouldnt be showing symptoms or have been diagnosed with those mental illnesses. Those illnesses then become to much for a child to bear ALONG WITH the continuous cyberbullying, and the end result is suicide. So now that it is explained like that can you now open your mind to the possibility that had the cyberbullying NEVER happened, the child WOULD NOT have committed suicide.
    Sorry, but you've made a quantum leap in reaching such conclusions.  You cannot make any of the claims you're making because there is no single causative link between any of them.  You cannot argue that mental illness is ONLY caused by bullying, so therefore you can't conclude that bullying is the sole cause of the mental illness.  Similarly, with all your other connections.  They may all be factors, but none of them are singular causes.

    Regardless of how open your mind is, the reality is that teen suicide occurs even without cyberbullying, so your final statement isn't demonstrated.
    Mundus vult decipi
    ok let me break it down a little farther.....Im not saying that the ONLY cause for suicide or the ONLY cause for mental illnesses is bullying. I'm stating that in the cases of REPORTED suicides among certain individuals surveyed for statistics that if the bullying had not occured neither would the depression or other mental illness wouldnt have occured and the end result for the cases used for research ended in suicide. Without a doubt the ONLY deciding factor in teenage suicide is NOT ALWAYS bullying. I apologize for the confusion because there are definatly MANY MANY reasons that can result in a child taking their life, but in the article they are claiming that out of the participants in THIS study it wasnt the cause of their suicide, and all im saying is if the child had a diagnosis of a mental illness as the result of bullying and then that diagnosed mental illness then became unbearable and they committed suicide the cause of the suicide is BULLYING. If the child hadnt bullied he wouldnt have the mental illness and the mental illness wouldnt have caused the suicide. With that said i only stand behind this statement if the diagnosis of the mental illness was SOLELY due to bullying, if the mental illness had other deciding factors to lead up to that diagnosis the SOLE cause of suicide IS NOT Bullying. Does that more sense?

    Gerhard Adam
    Yes, and that's pretty well in line with most views that bullying is definitely a factor, but it can't be considered the sole cause.

    I agree with you that there's no place for bullying, and such arguments aren't intended to excuse it.  I also agree that regardless of an individual's mental state, bullying will aggravate any condition that may already exist, as well as possibly give rise to other psychological issues.

    Perhaps we should consider changing the terminology slightly to suggest a "primary cause" rather than a "sole cause"?  This gives room for other factors to be implicated and recognizes that we can't possibly know all the conflicting elements that drive a person to suicide, as well as not necessarily recognizing a particular triggering event.

    I don't think there's any question that some psychological problem is manifesting itself, since the decision to commit suicide in these cases is certainly not a rational choice.  However, such problems are much more deeply rooted while a trigger could be as simple as failing a test or not having permission to borrow the car.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    I never saw an issue with the title, the protest looked to me just like Helen needing to tell us again that she counsels depressed people.  Plenty of articles have said that cyberbullying 'causes' suicide so saying it does not cause suicide was obvious, since it does not 'cause' suicide in anything other than mainstream media claims. If it causes it, then stopping it should stop suicide.  Yet we know that does not happen, so now we are to say that it is one of many contributing risk factors - which is bordering on meaningless.
    I see no issue with the title either but for some one to read the title and make an assumption without reading ALL the facts isnt right. Im not understanding how the realization and knowledge that bullying is a factor in some teen suicides is meaningless, or did i interpret that wrong? Having the knowledge of one of many factors that lead to a conclusion (suicide in this case) is outstanding IF and ONLY IF that knowledge is used to prevent such conclusion in the future! If the knowledge is gained then wrapped in apretty box and set on a shelf to look at and not used to benefit another then YES by all means that meaningless!!

    Hank
    It's often the case that science articles deal with one topic or one study.  If every article had to incorporate every study and hypothesis, the introductions of articles would be 30,000 words long each time. 

    Science 2.0 isn't mainstream media, our readers (and most of our members) are much smarter, and smart enough to know that talking about one study does not mean all other factors are invalidated ipso facto. Anyone getting theatrical is just putting on a show.
    Apparently your "smart" readers didnt come out to play today!!! I was only reading the article as part of a reasearch presentation i have to do and found it disturbing that people think bullying isnt the cause of some adolescent and teenage deaths. It isnt the SOLE cause of EVERY suicide but is a large contributing factor to ALOT of them.

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    I never saw an issue with the title, the protest looked to me just like Helen needing to tell us again that she counsels depressed people.
    Really Hank? Well let's get scientific about this, where exactly did I tell you all that? Where is your evidence for that false accusation? Or could your false accusation of me 'needing to tell us again that she counsels depressed people' actually be genuine scientific evidence of online cyberbullying in a scientific blooding environment for everyone to see?
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    LMAO get em girl!!!

    The data has been presented, now some coherent explanation needs to be found. Not a theory for textbooks, but something to chew on and have an adult conversation around.

    Some additional observations:

    1) The cyberbullying is a more recent phenomenon, obviously since cyberspace itself is a relatively recent development.
    2) Bullies are not really smart enough to get interested in cyberspace.
    3) Some bullies might be cowardly or physically not upto task, who would actually prefer cyber confrontation rather than face to face.
    4) The victims may themselves fall into cyber smart or cyber not.
    5) The implications of cyber bullying are not clear to all. Cyber comments are practically for ever. This realization might not occur in all victims OR it might occur to larger extent in some than others, causing them to go off deep end.
    6) Some victims might be able to cope with cyber bullying better as they can easily strike back anonymously or deliberately under another name, causing confusion and taking some edge off cyber bullies.

    Gerhard Adam
    The data has been presented, now some coherent explanation needs to be found. Not a theory for textbooks, but something to chew on and have an adult conversation around.
    What ?!?  What coherent explanation is required beyond that it is unacceptable behavior in any context?  What adult conversation needs to occur? 

    This isn't something that requires data.  It requires adults that have the backbone to step in and stop it when they see it occurring.  It needs to have adults that stop condoning it with the rationalization that "it will make kids stronger".  It needs to have adults that stop behaving as immaturely as their teen-agers in siding with bullies.

    In short, most bullies are that way because they have morons for parents that support the bullying.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Well, before you confront bullies with all guns blazing, some lines have to drawn. The OP claims there is no relation between cyber bullying and suicides, so that needs to be refuted based on data. Also, bullying must be balanced against first amendment F.O.S. Where speech ends and bullying begins? The absence of physical altercation makes it difficult to draw that line.

    Gerhard Adam
    The absence of physical altercation makes it difficult to draw that line.
    ... not that difficult.  If we recognize someone attempting to incite a riot, it isn't that much of a reach to suggest someone is attempting to incite suicide.  This is especially event when bullying posts basically taunt someone into committing suicide.  It's no different than having someone standing on a ledge and having a crowd chanting "jump".

    These aren't ethical or moral dilemmas.  It comes down to a simple matter of dealing with jerks.
    Mundus vult decipi
    The free speech amendment covers hate speech too. Unless that is further amended or regulated, I do not see any legal standing in your argument. One man's jerk is another man's hero. Although teens could require more protection than adults, as a general guidline, this "jerk" standard would not stand. There could be more regulations requiring service providers to allow more granular control ... like who can text your cell and who cannot etc. Or requiring a "permission" before allowing a number to text another. On the internet, there are already many such features. There is no need for the victim to read the posts.

    Gerhard Adam
    One man's jerk is another man's hero.
    Sorry, but there's nothing heroic, by any definition, when someone is browbeating someone that clearly isn't fighting back.


    Mundus vult decipi
    You know what I mean ... many popular talk shows would have to be shut down by jerk standard

    Gerhard Adam
    No, because we're not talking about singular encounters, nor are we talking about people having an argument or being insulting.  We're talking about someone that relentlessly pursues someone else after they've long given up participating.

    There's a difference between having a confrontation versus launching a campaign against an individual.
    Mundus vult decipi
    No, tv shows dont need to be cancelled we need good, outstanding, respectable parents that actually take part in their childs life to monitor these children and bring them up in a way that shows them bullying is wrong! Im sorry even teenagers need monitored excuse me ESPECIALLY teenager should be monitored!!! That swhat wrong with our children, parents stick their kids in front of a television or stick a computer or cell phone in their hand and forget they exist instead of spending good ol fashion quality time with the people they brought into this world not by choice!

    Sorry Gerhard, but continuing to argue with this apparent "jerk" is causing you to stoop to the same level! Ignorance is a condition that will NEVER have a cure, and if this very clearly ignorant person would read more than one article before spewing all that stupid out they would see how entirely ignorant they sound! Anyone that can run their mouth, but want to stay anonymous is probably one of those "jerk" you talk about that could use a good slap with intelligence!!

    Gerhard Adam
    Where speech ends and bullying begins?
    It's quite simple.  When the speech is only in one direction, occurs at all hours and is unwelcome, then it is bullying.  Unless there's a specific reason for the speech to have occurred, an individual has a right to be left alone.  You do not have a right to park on the street and taunt me or my family with a bullhorn all night long, so there's nothing particularly ambiguous about this.

    Perhaps you want to consider it like pornography ... I can't define it, but I know it when I see it.

    Let's put it this way.  If you knew you'd likely get punched in the face for your comments, then you're probably bullying someone [this is especially true if you know you won't get punched].

    I've found that the true miracle of bullies is that they immediately recognize when their actions are detrimental when someone doesn't put up with their crap.


    Mundus vult decipi
    "Let's put it this way. If you knew you'd likely get punched in the face for your comments, then you're probably bullying someone [this is especially true if you know you won't get punched]."

    A bully would easily turn it around if he is caught. "Why did he just not puch me back in my face? I though he was okay with it!". And that is the issue. Nothing stops until it is met with an opposing force. In this case, there needs to be some sort of regulation, at least upto a certain age (upto 18 ... 25 ... whatever)

    Gerhard Adam
    Nothing stops until it is met with an opposing force.
    I agree.  To be perfectly honest, bullies will always be around and they will perpetually seek to take advantage.  What really needs to occur is that the "support" group that the bully is playing to needs to let it be known that such behavior isn't acceptable.

    One can 't stop what an individual chooses to do, but they can certainly control whether are part of the group that condones it.  Take away the audience and the bully goes away.
    Mundus vult decipi
    "... declare that ending bullying would end suicides ..."

    Who says this? Looks like a straw man argument.

    "Most teen suicide victims are bullied both online and in school, and many suicide victims also suffer from depression."

    Perhaps the depression is from the bullying.

    "Suicides most frequently occurred in September (15 percent) and January (12 percent)"

    Both months when the school term begins and the bullied have to be near the bullies again.

    "78 percent of adolescents who committed suicide were bullied both at school and online, only 17 percent were targeted online only."

    So, 95% are cyber-bullied.

    "A mood disorder was reported in 32 percent of the teens, and depression symptoms in an additional 15 percent."

    Bullies target those who are different or easy prey. Having a mood disorder or depression makes one vulnerable to bullying. It isn't clear if these conditions were pre-existing or a result of the bullying.

    "Cyberbullying is a factor in some suicides,"

    95% in fact.

    " but almost always there are other factors such as mental illness or face-to-face bullying, ...Cyberbullying usually occurs in the context of regular bullying."

    Obviously.

    "Cyberbullying occurred through various media and text or video messaging was noted in 14 cases."

    Fourteen people is one-third of the group studied. What about the other two-thirds?

    "Certain social media, by virtue of allowing anonymity, may encourage cyberbullying,"

    Obviously.

    "said Dr. LeBlanc. "It is difficult to prove a cause and effect relationship, but I believe there is little justification for anonymity.""

    In other news:

    Old age doesn't "cause" death

    Alcohol doesn't "cause" drunk driving

    Hard work and dedication doesn't "cause" good grades or promotions

    Ice doesn't "cause" someone to slip

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    "78 percent of adolescents who committed suicide were bullied both at school and online, only 17 percent were targeted online only."
    So, 95% are cyber-bullied. 
    Very good points David, especially your observation that 95% of teen suicides in this study had been cyberbullied, I misinterpreted the cumulative cyberbullying statistics, so I have accidentally misrepresented them above!
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    And still this stupid, unscientific, misleading title claiming that 'Cyberbullying Does Not 'Cause' Teen Suicide' is allowed to remain here. How ridiculous!
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    This article by Todd Neale the senior staff writer at Medpage Today does a much better analysis of this same research pointing out that cyberbullies have real world allies and publishes the following observations from the study:-
    Action Points
    • Note that this study was published as an abstract and presented at a conference. These data and conclusions should be considered to be preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
    • Teen suicides tied to cyberbullying usually involve real-world harassment as well.
    • Note that cyberbullying was perpetrated through various avenues, including social networking sites, instant messaging, and text, video, or picture messaging.
    "We've always suspected that there is a cumulative factor between cyberbullying and traditional bullying," commented Gwenn O'Keeffe, MD, a pediatrician who heads Pediatrics Now, a health and communications company.
    "It's nice to have somebody document what we've been seeing, that kids who are cyberbullied are also bullied, and that when you add the two together, it's really a hornet's nest," said O'Keeffe, a member of the AAP's Council on Communications and Media and one of the lead authors of the academy's clinical report on the impact of social media.
    According to LeBlanc, cyberbullying brings to the online world the characteristics of traditional bullying -- power imbalance, intent to harm, and repeated aggression. Cyberbullying has the added problems of allowing the bully to remain anonymous and to perpetrate the abuse at all hours of the day.
    To find out what other factors might be involved in cyberbullying-related suicides, LeBlanc and his colleagues used Google and Factiva to identify news stories about such cases and to learn more about the victims. They did not place any restrictions on victim age or other factors.
    They identified 41 suicides tied to cyberbullying -- 24 in females and 17 in males -- that occurred from 2003 through April 2012. All of the victims were teens, ranging in age from 13 to 18 (mean 15.1).The lack of adult cases indicates that "there's something very vulnerable about this age group," LeBlanc said.

    Most of the cases (26) occurred in the U.S., with others in Australia (six), the U.K. (five), and Canada (four). The number of cases appeared to increase over time, with the largest number reported last year.Many of the teens who committed suicide were reported to have struggled with mental health conditions, including mood disorders in 32% and depression in 15%. However, 37% of the teens were reported to have been acting normally before killing themselves.

    It is very interesting that the study reported here is only a preliminary study that contains only an abstract, which is why I couldn't find the research paper and that it was not intended to investigate causes of teen suicide, it just ended up being that age range as a result of the data that they found. Also it is interesting and alarming that 37% of the teenagers were reported to be acting normally before killing themselves and that the majority of suicides happened last year, does that mean that teen suicide caused by cyberbullying is on the increase? 

    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    It has become obvious that today’s bullying has reached a new level. And because of the anonymity, the Internet concedes children to say things that they wouldn’t normally say to someone’s face. Even though cyber-bullying is a contributing factor, it’s certainly not the sole thing that causes teen suicide. However, when the cyber-bullying gets out of control and the abuse is too much, it can definitely lead someone to go over the edge and commit suicide.
    In the particular sad case of Amanda Todd, all that harassment and abuse she had to endure was a lot to bear, not to mention the fact that all this caused her to develop depression, anxiety and get involved in drugs and alcohol.
    Another thing that it’s truly disturbing is; where were her parents in all of this? Didn’t they realize that’s something was wrong when they were moving her from school to school, and finding out about drugs and alcohol and overdoses and cutting. Where was the mom or dad? Didn’t they ever talk to her about all these horrible things that were happening? I can’t understand how no one got involved or tried to do something. Listening to the news about Amanda Todd and after her death, so many people had a lot to say. They all knew what she was going through; she was going to counseling and getting help, etc. Yet, she felt alone and all this pain never stopped. As parents, teachers, friends, schools, communities whatever we are doing is not good enough. And it all starts with us, with a simple act of kindness, understanding and love.

    What is I see as crucial is to limit possibilities of those who could use online space for cyberbullying and hate speech. There may be difficulties with it if sites or social media networks do not have such terms of use that would not allow users to use them to publish hate speeches or related visual material. You Tube has made an online safety center in which explains the effect of hate speech. There is also an the International Network Against Cyber-Hate, Anti-Defamation League that works in this field. We see that it still needs effort to mobilize people do advocate both at jurisdiction as well as individual companies to pass measures for protection.

    Media education is another important thing. There is already a few good examples of combating hate speech online like the Media Awareness Network based in Canada that aims to educate youth about media and its threats.

    I agree the title is a bit misleading. I think the study should focus more on cyber bullying being a variable in people developing mental problems (depression and in some cases PTSD depending on how severe the bullying is) which can then lead to suicidal thoughts. Of course it can be demonstrated statistically that cyber bullying can or can not be considered causal in teenage suicide but that doesn't really address if it's a factor. It shouldn't take a study to have to show that this is of course the case. The importance of this issue is that the internet is becoming a weapon for people to harass others, not just teenagers, and they have anonymity when doing this so there is less of a risk of facing any consequences. I also think the internet fosters an environment where people feel more laxed and intensified the harassment and bullying even if that isn't the intent.

    If the cyberbullying was taken out of the realm and the causing factor of the suicide was depression or some other mental illness which was developed due to the continuous bullying then how is it NOT the sole factor!! Bullying leads to mental illness which leads to suicide! Bullying being the SOLE factor the child committed suicide because had it not happened neither would the mental illnesses and neither would the suicide!!

    Gerhard Adam
    While I can appreciate the sentiment, the problem is in establishing that such sole causes actually occur.  Human beings tend to be much more complex than that, and it may well be that the individual was depressed which gave rise to bullying which aggravated the situation.  In other cases, perhaps it is the sole cause.  The point is that one can't simply assign a sole cause without having actually established such a linkage.
    If the cyberbullying was taken out of the realm and the causing factor of the suicide was depression...
    In this statement you specifically define depression as being caused by cyberbullying, so if that is singularly true, then your conclusion would be.  However, it isn't singularly true. 
    Bullying leads to mental illness which leads to suicide!
    I don't believe you really mean that bullying causes ALL forms of mental illness which is the sole cause of teen suicide.  If that were true, then eliminating cyberbullying would correspondingly end all teen suicide, which I expect you know isn't true.

    That isn't to say that your relationship may not be true for some cases, however it isn't general enough to make such a blanket claim.
    78 percent of adolescents who committed suicide were bullied both at school and online, only 17 percent were targeted online only. A mood disorder was reported in 32 percent of the teens, and depression symptoms in an additional 15 percent.
    This breakdown of percentages already indicates that there is no single causal relationship as is being suggested since 78% were bullied [in general] but only 47% were depressed.
    Mundus vult decipi
    NO, im not saying that ALL suicide is the direct result of bullying, once again i apologize for not being entirely clear. Im only talking about the people in this particular study! There is NEVER a completely true representation and NOTHING is ever set in stone. If that were the case there would not be different theories from different psychologists. No one will ever be able to have a theory that EVERYONE believes, how boring would that be?