Bullying issue at center of suicides

With the growing number of social networking sites comes a swift increase in the prevalence of cyberbullying, the deliberate, repeated, hostile behavior by a group or individual intended to harm another, whether online or through the use of a cell phone.

i-Safe Inc., a non-profit foundation whose goal is to educate students on how to avoid dangerous and inappropriate behavior online, reported that 42 percent of all young people have experienced cyberbullying and that one in four had it happen more than once.

“As we are becoming more and more reliant on technology as our major means of communication, the potential for cyberbullying will probably continue to increase,” said Brent Lane, a psychologist with UH’s Counseling and Psychology Services. “Awareness campaigns to reduce cyberbullying could potentially counteract this trend.”

Following the recent rash of teen suicides spurred by both cyberbullying and through physical means, Chris Armstrong, the first openly gay student body president at the University of Michigan, spoke out on CNN’s AC360 about his own experience with cyberbullying at the hands of Andrew Shirvell, a lawyer at the Michigan attorney general’s office. Shirvell created a blog called “Chris Armstrong Watch” where he openly bashed Armstrong for his sexuality, calling him a “radical homosexual activist, racist, elitist and liar.”

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres broadcast a heartfelt appeal to victims of bullying earlier this month.

“This needs to be a wake up call to everyone that teen-aged bullying and teasing is an epidemic in this country, and the death toll is climbing,” she said.

At a city council meeting in Fort Worth, councilman Joel Burns concurred, recounting his own experiences with bullying and admitting that he flirted with the idea of suicide. Burns pleaded with victims to see that life does get better, however, hoping that his words would offer comfort to victims everywhere by letting them know that they are not alone.

“This story is for the young people who might be holding the gun tonight, or the rope or the pill bottle,” Burns said. “You need to know that the story doesn’t end where I didn’t tell it, on that unfortunate day. There is so, so much more.”

For UH students who have fallen victim to bullying in any form, CAPS offers help.

“Research has consistently found a link between being the victim of bullying and increased risk for depression, anxiety, problems in relationships and suicidal ideation,” Lane said. “These are common presenting problems that CAPS therapists are trained to treat.”

DeGeneres ended her segment poignantly.

“Things will get easier, people’s minds will change, and you should be alive to see it.”


  • After 23 years in juvenile court, I believe that teenagers often learn from the experiences of their peers, not just from being lectured by those in authority. Consequently, “Teen Cyberbullying Investigated” was published in January, 2010.

    Endorsed by Dr. Phil on April 8, 2010 ["Bullied to Death" show], “Teen Cyberbullying Investigated” presents real cases of teens in trouble over their online and cell phone activities. Civil & criminal sanctions have been imposed on teens over their emails, blogs, text and IM messages, Facebook entries and more. TCI is interactive and promotes education & awareness so that our youth will begin to “Think B4 U Click.”

    Thanks for looking at “Teen Cyberbullying Investigated” on [publisher] or on [a free website for & about teens and the law].

    Regards, -Judge Tom

  • Several U of H professors involved in bullying, harrassment, and persecution of religious views of a Christian student in the department of history. These are crimes in the state of Texas and several professors could be subject to Criminal Prosecution. Email us at [email protected] if you are a victim of any U of H professors or staff.

Leave a Comment