What is Bullying ?

Bullying is the ongoing physical or emotional victimization of a person by another person or group of people.1

Many children and youth experience bullying at school, in the community, and online, every year.

Bullying is associated with increased suicide risk among those who have been victims of bullying. In addition to an increased suicide risk, young people who are victims of bullying also may experience increases in depression and other problems associated with suicide.1

Both victims and perpetrators of bullying are at higher risk for suicide than their peers. When children are both victims and perpetrators of bullying, they are at the highest risk.1

Even observing, but not participating, in bullying behavior can lead to feelings of helplessness and less sense of connectedness and support from responsible adults.2

Bullying is not a single, direct cause of suicide, but it can be a major factor.

Roles Kids Play in Bullying

This is the individual that is doing the bullying. Youth who act out through bullying others may be trying to fit in and/or reacting to stress, abuse, or other issues at home or school.

Support and referrals should be provided for all youth involved, and their families.
This is the individual that is being victimized by the bully.
This individual is not a victim of bullying or the perpetrator, but they are instead observing the bullying as it is happening.

Bullying Risk Factors

Many of these risk factors for bullying are also risk factors for suicidal behavior.

Individual Factors

Social Factors

Some populations are at higher risk for bullying and suicidal behavior. These include:
LGBTQ+ Youth
Youth with Disabilities/Learning Differences2
Youth with Cultural Differences2

Learn more about how suicide affects LGBTQ+ youth and how you can help here.

Effects of Bullying

Bullying, and especially chronic bullying, can have long-term effects on suicide risk and mental health that could persist into adulthood, including:

Kids Who Bully Are More Likely To...

Kids Who Witness Bullying Are More Likely To...

What is Cyberbullying ?

Cyberbullying is where people use communication technologies like social media and texting to harass and cause emotional harm to their victims.1

The most common places that cyberbullying occurs are:

  • Social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok
  • Text messaging and messaging apps on mobile or tablet devices
  • Instant messaging, direct messaging, and online chatting over the internet
  • Online forums, chat rooms, and message boards, such as Reddit
  • Email
  • Online gaming communities 4

Cyberbullying poses some unique concerns because it can be persistent, permanent, and hard to notice.

  • Persistent, because communication technology allows us to communicate immediately and continuously 24 hours a day. Children experiencing cyberbullying may not be able to escape it and find relief.
  • Permanent, because information communicated electronically is permanent and public, if not reported and removed.
  • Hard to Notice, because teachers and parents many not be able to observe cyberbullying take place, so it is harder to recognize. 4

Cyberbullying Tactics

Some of the most common cyberbullying tactics include:

More examples of cyberbullying tactics can be found here.

How to Deal with Bullying


1. Suicide Prevention Resource Center. (2011). Suicide and bullying. https://sprc.org/online-library/suicide-and-bullying-issue-brief/.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). The relationship between bullying and suicide: What we know and what it means for schools. https://stacks.cdc.gov/view/cdc/34163.
3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021). Effects of bullying. https://www.stopbullying.gov/bullying/effects.
4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2020). What is cyberbullying. https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it.
5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018). Cyberbullying tactics. https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/cyberbullying-tactics.
6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2019). How to prevent bullying. https://www.stopbullying.gov/prevention/how-to-prevent-bullying.
7. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2017). What kids can do. https://www.stopbullying.gov/resources/kids.