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Bullying, Suicide and Youth: What We Need to Know Now

A new survey shows an increase in suicide attempts and bullying.

Source: Bigstock

Suicide is a difficult topic to discuss, yet a necessary one. Recently Duval County schools released new data in their survey, Youth Risk Behavior (YRBS), regarding how common thoughts of suicide are among school-age children.

Although we typically think about depression as it relates to adults, with more than 264 million people affected by the disorder, suicide is consistently a leading cause of death for those under the age of 18.

In high schools, the survey found that more students have seriously considered attempting suicide than a decade ago. The numbers are also significantly higher than Florida’s state average of high school students considering suicide.

According to the Jacksonville Times Union, Katrina Taylor, the Director of School Behavioral Health for Duval County Public Schools, says a higher number isn’t necessarily bad since it reflects students are willing to talk about their issues.

“It’s not abnormal for suicide ideations data to be up for a community such as Duval,” Taylor said. “This speaks to the students openness and the safety students feel to disclose that information. It also points to the need to eliminate the stigma associated with seeking mental health counseling.”

2019 Duval County Youth Risk Behavior Survey
Source: YRBS
  • 23 percent of high school students seriously considered attempting suicide
  • 19 percent of high school students attempted suicide
  • 31 percent of middle school students seriously considered attempting suicide
  • 21 percent of middle school students made a plan to attempt suicide
  • 16 percent of middle school students attempted suicide

Bullying and cyberbullying

In this recent survey, Duval County students say they are being bullied more than the state average, both online and in person.

Almost a quarter of high school students (21.8 percent) said they didn't want to schools because they felt unsafe. Almost half (40 percent) of middle school students, while 18 percent of high school teens admit they were bullied on school property.

Unfortunately, we now bullying can be 24/7 with technology. Students in both high school (15 percent) and middle school (19 percent) say they are being cyberbullied off-campus. Online bullying can be extremely damaging to a child's mental wellness since they continue to revisit the malicious comments or content over and over again.

All of the statistics listed are higher than their respective state averages, according to Duval Schools’ report.

Coping skills for teens

Dr. Michele Borba, author of UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, understands that young people are worried today. We are living in uncertain times that could be contributing to teen stress and anxiety and potentially leading to depression.

Leading concerns among teens:

  • Worried about school
  • Feeling lonely and disconnected
  • Fret about their family (economics)
  • Following the news (negativity online or misinformation)

Dr. Borba suggests that parents help their teen learn how to deal with their feelings of grief and sadness. One of the best ways, she says, is to find ways to pay it forward. The following short video has a few more parenting ideas.


New Survey Reveals Teens' Anxieties, How They're Staying Connected, and Their Struggles with Distance Learning Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic, April 2020

Duval County Youth Risk Behavior Survey

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