This is Part 1 of a 2-part Guest Editorial series on bullying and suicide. Part 2 appears tomorrow, July 8.
Bullying is generally thought of as a childhood-teenage phenomena but, in fact, it is widespread in American schools, the workplace and drives political strategies.
Learning how to bully starts in childhood with more than 16 percent of U.S. school children being bullied. It extends into the elder population with some 10 to 20 percent of adults reporting experiencing senior-to-senior bullying.
Regardless of age, males and females generally differ in their tactics. Males engage in both physical and verbal abuse. Some 26 percent of female bullies may engage in male tactics. However, the majority of female bullying is done by creating a caste system with a clearly defined leader. Collectively, they engage in verbal aggression, rumoring, and ostracism as their primary tactic. Thus, females politicize and socialize their bullying.
Female bullies remove their opposition via preemptive strikes to ostracize. Crucially, ostracism has no relation to justice or fairness. There is no charge or defense, since the exile is not used as a penalty; it is simply a command by the leader.
Female bullies drive their opponents into depression and unhappiness which is a form of social death. This is done by combining ostracism with verbal aggression and rumors. If women commit these acts for ideological or political motives, their acts may be identified as the criminal offense of limited political terrorism, since they are utilizing distinct methods of violence to get their message across.
In recent years, bullying has been related to suicide. Yale University reports that suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, and bully victims are between two to nine times more likely to consider suicide than non-bullied victims.
The possibility of suicide or murder-suicide increases when victims of bullying are, or have been, using certain legally prescribed drugs.
According to Ann Blake Tracy, PhD, Executive Director, International Coalition for Drug Awareness, the number one common denominator in these (suicide) cases is an antidepressant. The drugs cause one to act out nightmares so these cases often happen in the middle of night or early morning hours and generally happen for no apparent reason.
This condition, she reports, is called REM Sleep Behavior Disorder. Her research suggests that 86 percent of the suicide cases involved antidepressants. A person can do very detailed tasks in this sleep state, the doctor suggests.
It's a slippery slope to causally link bullying, drugs, and suicide or suicide-murder, to murder charges. However, some prosecutors are, at least, attacking the problem of bullying.
Bullying is a serious public policy issue that must be brought into the sunshine and dealt with harshly.
Michael M. McGreer writes on public policy. His books: No Harm, No Foul, Bioterrorism in the 21st century, and All Rivers Flow West, are both available on Amazon.