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Bullies and victims have suicidal thoughts

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Both bullies and victims of bullying have more suicidal thoughts than other children, finds US research.

The review of 37 studies from 13 countries found links between bullying and suicidal thoughts in the majority of papers on children and adolescents. The studies took place in America, Canada, South Korea, Japan, South Africa, the UK, Germany and other European countries.

Five studies showed bullying victims were two to nine times more likely to report suicidal thoughts than other children. It also found bullies were likely to have more suicidal thoughts.

‘While there is no definitive evidence that bullying makes kids more likely to kill themselves, now that we see there's a likely association, we can act on it and try to prevent it,’ said Young-Shin Kim, review lead and assistant professor at Yale’s Child Study Center.

But the review team could not determine cause and effect from the studies due to their design. Nor did most of them take into account confounders such as gender, psychiatric problems and a history of suicide attempts.

Ms Kim hopes the current review will encourage those working with children to take bullying seriously.

‘When we see kids who are targets of bullying, we should ask them if they're thinking about hurting themselves,’ she said. ‘We should evaluate and prevent these things from happening.’

The review is published online in the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health.

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