Suicide link in cyber-bullying

NZ Herald 7 May 2012
The Chief Coroner is backing proposed law changes to crack down on “cyber-bullying” because of concern that it is helping to fuel New Zealand’s high rate of youth suicide. Judge Neil MacLean says bullying by mobile phone texting or on social media such as Facebook is “often a background factor” in suicides coming before coroners. “We know it’s certainly a risk factor for suicide, and we know that adolescents often talk about interpersonal problems when investigators are looking into not necessarily completed suicides but self-harm.” He said recent Law Commission proposals to create new offences of incitement to suicide, maliciously impersonating another person, and publishing intimate photos without consent all “deserve the attention of the legislature”.

One survey of 9-year-olds in 35 countries found that New Zealand has the world’s second-highest rate of school bullying. It also has the world’s highest suicide rate of young males aged 15 to 24 and the second-highest overall death rate of young people aged 10 to 24, reflecting a high road death toll as well as suicide. A long-term study of 1265 people born in Christchurch in 1977 found that both adolescents who were bullied and the teenagers who bullied them were up to three times more likely than others to attempt suicide before age 30.