Does bullying cause suicidal depression

Does Bullying Cause Suicidal Depression? 8 Alarming Factors to know 

Writen By: Huma Khan
Reviewed By: Huma Khan
Publish Date: September 11, 2023

I was at my clinic when a woman came with her kid, anxiously moving around, asking me one of her concerns, ‘does bullying cause suicidal depression?’ On digging into her a little more, she told me that her daughter is uninterested in school; she absolutely hates it. She doesn’t eat, sleep, or play with her peers. She often wants to stay at home and is always silent, never wanting to sit with family. Her mother told me that she is being bullied, and she often talks about death. Hence, her concern’ does bullying cause suicidal depression?

This is just one story; there are many such stories that often end in graves, unheard. If you are someone who feels awful from being bullied at school, at work, or in social settings and often gets suicidal thoughts, don’t be sad or feel sorry for what’s happening to you. Everybody once had felt it and it happens to people on a daily basis. 

You will be heard, and your issues will be addressed here and now. We have got our valued reader’s backs. Bullying is a common occurrence and is often dealt with with little care and attention on the part of people and those in the system. Today we are going to elaborate in detail as to “does bullying cause suicidal depression?”

Understanding Bullying 

Bullying is a type of aggressive behavior in which someone purposefully and persistently causes harm or discomfort to another person, according to the American Psychological Association. 

Bullying is aggressive behavior on the part of a strong person directed at a weaker or, perhaps, more calm person. Bullying occurs in a repeated manner on the part of the person and usually targets the emotions of the person being bullied, which in some cases could extend to a physical dimension too. 

Bullying is more common among school-aged children; hence, most of us know it from there. In fact, In Borowsky’s study of sixth, ninth, and twelfth graders, 1.2% of uninvolved youth attempted suicide, compared to 5% of frequent bullies, 6.5% of frequent victims, and 11.1% of frequent bully-victims of frequent verbal or social bullying. For instance, in schools, usually children group up against one weak fellow of theirs. Threatening, spreading rumors, and attacking physically or verbally are all included in bullying.

Different forms of bullying

Bullying is often associated with school-aged children, but it is not like that; people In different social settings are prone to the social evil of bullying. It may take place in schools, colleges, universities, the workplace, social gatherings, ceremonial processions, etc. 

Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words, or more subtle actions. 

Following are the different forms of bullying:

  1. Verbal: When, by word of mouth, someone tries to intimidate another, e.g., catcalling.
  2. Physical: When someone attacks you physically, e.g., by pushing, fistfighting, etc.
  3. Online:When on social media or anywhere online, someone tries to stalk or troll somebody.

Bullying can be based on several things. Most of the time, the person bullying the other does not have any reason to do it. The reasons he is looking for are not usually there in the person being bullied; it is just to satisfy the bully’s ego. 

A few of the criteria are given below:

  1. Cyber bullying

Sending, commenting, or texting of a threatening nature via electronic communication media like phones, computers, or tablets is called cyberbullying. E.g trolling a woman, sending her intimate messages against her will etc. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that adolescents who have access to the internet are more likely to be exposed to cyberbullying, which can increase the risk of suicide.

  1. LGBTQ bullying (sexual orientation):

If someone is being bullied on the basis of their gender identity, sexual orientation, or gender expression, this is known as LGBTQ bullying. E.g., a transgender man is bullied for being too effeminate. 

  1. Color :

When someone is being bullied on the basis of their skin color being more dark than the standard fair complexion. E.g., black African people are often portrayed as robbers, snatchers, criminals, etc. 

  1. Ethnicity/Racial Bullying:

When someone is bullying someone on the basis of their creed, ethnicity, or race. E.g., Indians are bullied for their specific Indian English accent. Pakistanis joke about not being proficient enough at English 

  1. Religious Bullying :

When someone hurts you or is being harsh to you on the basis of your religion or faith. E.g., Islamophobic people bully Muslims for being terrorists or pedophiles for having four wives.

  1. Physical appearance:

Making mean comments about someone’s appearance in a way that hurts them, e.g., ugly, fat girl,hunchback, etc. 

  1. Gender:

Making fun of women’s physical strength compared to men in a way to insult them, e.g., joking about women’s menstruation and assuming she can’t lead. 

Effects of bullying on mental health

Bullying’s impacts on everyone are as profound and vile as the deed itself. It has a negative impact on both the person who is being bullied and the person who bullies others. Even as an observer, it reveals the feelings of helplessness and fear among people who witness bullying. Negative outcomes of bullying for the Victim, Bully, and spectator are anxiety, depression, substance abuse, frustration, social malfunctioning, poor performance, flawed competence, and an underdeveloped personality. 

The effects of bullying are widespread, but people are unaware and often ignore them. They bluff it out, saying, Does bullying cause suicidal depression? As if the idea of bullying and suicidal depression is remote to them and will never be witnessed by them when they are actually surrounded by it everywhere. It’s just a matter of time. The moment you step out of your safe zone, which in this case would be your family, into society, you are bound to face bullies in every form and shape on a daily basis. These things leave an imprint on the human mind. 

According to research published recently on plant growth, it shows that if a person speaks well and positively to a plant, It is going to grow fast and smoothly, but if you curse and say negative things to your plants, they will wither out and die eventually. This was one instance just to show our readers the power of words, as bullying usually takes place through words, since most of you are curious enough to ask, Does bullying cause suicidal depression?’ . It is the power of these words that may lead one to suicidal thoughts. 

Now, let us look into the effects of bullying on mental health in detail:

1. PTSD: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Repeated exposure to traumatic situations, such as bullying, can cause PTSD.

Effects: PTSD can result in nightmares, flashbacks, and very high anxiety. Adults and children who have been bullied may be affected.

2. Self-Injury (Self-Harm)

As a coping strategy, some people who have experienced bullying may turn to self-harming behaviors or, worse, even suicide. 

Effects: Self-harm, which includes cutting, burning, and other self-inflicted injuries, is frequently an appeal for support and help.

3. Social Anxiety Disorder

Due to their fear of criticism, humiliation, or unfavorable attention from others, bullied individuals may develop a social phobia. 

Effect: People who have experienced bullying may become unduly self-conscious in social settings and shun social contacts as a result.

4. Eating disorder

Bullying, particularly when it involves physical attributes like weight or looks, can influence the emergence of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia nervosa. It could result in a distorted perception of one’s body and a need for bodily control.

Effect: Malnutrition, physical weakness, and an obsession with food and weight are just a few of the serious physical and psychological side effects of eating disorders.

5. Depression

Bullying another person frequently can cause depressive symptoms like hopelessness, unhappiness, and despair. They are likely to lose their self worth. 

Effects: All aspects of life, including motivation, hunger, and sleep, can be impacted by depression.

6. Anxiety

Victims under fear feel anxious to extremes due to bullying.

Effects: Anxiety at a later stage can cause frustration and impede a person’s daily functioning.

7. Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Bullying that is associated with physical appearance can contribute to body dysmorphic disorder, where individuals become preoccupied with perceived flaws in themselves. Such as body shaming, cat calling, etc. 

Effects: Extreme unhappiness with one’s looks can emerge from this, which frequently prompts compulsive behaviors or the desire for unneeded cosmetic surgeries.

8. Agoraphobia 

In response to traumatic situations like bullying, agoraphobia can arise. Because of prior harassment, some people may develop a phobia of leaving their safe environments.

Effect: Agoraphobia can make it very difficult for a person to carry out daily tasks and can make them feel isolated.

9. Personality Disorders

Long-term bullying exposure may contribute to the upsurge of personality disorders, including avoidant or paranoid personality disorders.

Effects: Personality disorders can affect relationships maintenance and survival in a society where people are usually judgmental.

Does bullying cause suicidal depression?

What causes suicidal depression? Is the burning question of this contemporary era, as it has plunged and grasped a vast majority of the spectators who once thought depression was as alien to them as the Aliens themselves. Researchers estimate that about 60 percent of people who lose their lives to suicide have had a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder. 

Now, it might seem like depression is a front end agent and bullying doesn’t have anything to do with it, and hence you might wonder, Does bullying cause suicidal depression? But let me correct you that depression is just the tip of the iceberg. On digging further, you will know that bullying causes suicidal depression and is the most notorious culprit for suicide among the psychologist community. Hence the question, Does bullying cause suicidal depression? Is ruled out here. 

Hence, bullying in one way or the other leads to suicidal depression. For the sake of clarity, those factors that are contributing to the interrelationship between bullying and suicidal depression are enlisted below:

1. Psychological Impact:

Bullying disrupts a person’s normal brain functioning and can lead to imbalanced emotional and social behavior on part of the victim. Bullying causes a feeling of hopelessness, worthlessness, and despair, leading to a high frequency of self esteem devaluation that ultimately ends in suicide. 

According to the Washington State Health Youth Survey, almost 1 in every 4 10th grade students who were bullied attempted suicide in the past 12 months, which proves that bullying leads to suicide. 

2. Mental Health Issues:

Many people suffering from any mental health conditions prior to bullying might aggravate and tense the impact of it for that person. Hence, the only thing that they might see as their best option is suicide.

3. Low self-esteem:

An individual’s self-esteem can be damaged by persistent criticism, mockery, or bullying, which can make them feel unworthy or unlovable. A person with low self esteem cannot manage relationships effectively. It tempers their personal growth as well.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death among low-self-esteem young people between ages 15-24 who were bullied on a regular basis.

4. Lack of support: Bullying often leads to isolation rather than inclusivity, as the victims are usually not welcomed and considered weak and without any quality. Hence, they may feel out of love and social acceptance, which may push them into social isolation, and they may withdraw from all those activities that they previously liked. This can act as a catalyst for their lonely feelings and may lead to suicide. 

According to the Washington State Healthy Youth Survey, half of the 12th graders who reported bullying also said they felt depressed and hopeless literally every day for two weeks in a row.

5. Stigmatization: Bullies often name their victims or devalue them in such a way that nobody wants them. They often insult their victims publicly, and the victim is never again welcomed to sit at the table next to his classmate just because he is stigmatized in such a manner that leads to further isolation from peers. 

According to Suicide Awareness Voices for Education, one of the main causes of death among those aged 15 to 24 is suicide due to bullying. In addition, 16% of students think about committing suicide, 13% plan to do so, and 8% have actually done so. Hence, bullying causes suicide. 

6. Access to Means: If someone is already thinking about suicide, having access to lethal means (such as firearms) can greatly enhance their likelihood of actually committing suicide because someone from their workplace, school, or social setting bullied them. Access to deadly weapons should be restricted as a key preventative measure. 

7. Personal resilience: How people react to bullying is influenced by their level of resilience. Bullying can affect the mental health of some people, but not everyone, depending on their resilience and coping mechanisms. When a person is not as resilient, they may get depressed due to bullying and commit suicide.

8. Previous Trauma: Because bullying can re-traumatize victims and intensify pre-existing trauma-related symptoms, those who have already suffered trauma may be more vulnerable to its harmful consequences.

Hence, the facts above clearly lead to the idea that the way bullying is linked to suicide and the question ‘does bullying cause suicidal depression?’ have been well substantiated with the research corpus given above. 

Symptoms of Suicidal Depression

For ease of understanding, symptoms are categorized according to the age group to better equip our readers with an understanding of themselves and others who might be going through something silently. 

Symptoms specific to different age groups are given below:


Children with depressive illnesses or anxiety disorders may exhibit behavioral symptoms that are different from the typical symptoms seen in adults. For example, a child with depression may not seem sad or withdrawn, but they may refuse to go to school or develop a fear of separation from their parents. A child with anxiety may not seem anxious or worried, but they may develop rituals or routines that they feel they need to follow in order to feel safe.

  • Issues controlling anger and aggression.
  • Harming their pets
  • Disobedience and rebellious nature
  • Energy fluctuations from lethargic to frenzied activity, with periods of normalcy.
  • Physical symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, stomachaches, arm or leg aches, nail-biting, pulling out hair or eyelashes 
  • Bedwetting, constipation, or diarrhea. 
  • Active fight or flight mood.


People with anxiety or depression may also experience physical symptoms, such as dizziness, headaches, stomachaches, neck pain, muscle pain in the arms or legs, and digestive problems. These physical symptoms are not caused by a medical condition, but they are real and can be very distressing.

  • Lack of motivation or enthusiasm for activities that were once enjoyable
  • Feeling tired all the time, even after getting enough sleep.
  • Speech that is hesitant or slurred, body trembling, or restlessness (anxiety).
  • There is an obsession with themes of death in literature, music, and art, and there is a fascination with knives and weapons.
  • Having thoughts, plans, or attempts at suicide, even.


  • Persistent sadness and feeling lonely.
  • Feeling hopeless, helpless, unworthy, and pessimistic
  • Irritability, increased crying, anxiety, or panic attacks.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Persistent physical symptoms or pains that do not respond to treatment.
  • When the means of suicide are in access to an adult, they may harm themselves or potentially attempt suicide.


  • Unusual complaints of aches and pains (back, stomach, arms, legs, head, and chest), exhaustion, sluggishness, loss of appetite, difficulty falling or staying asleep, weight gain or loss, blurred vision, dizziness, and anxiety.
  • Lack of focus, memory, or clarity of thought (often mistaken for dementia). a generalized sense of melancholy or apathy, disengagement, and an inability to delight in anything.
  • Regular medical appointments without symptom relief; all tests are negative.
  • Alcoholism, which might conceal a depression that is underneath.
  • Racing, disorganized thoughts, easily distracted.
  • Impulsivity, poor judgment, and spending binges
  • Socially embarrassing behavior.
  • Hesitant to eat, delaying taking medicines, and if means of attempt in access (like knife) they may attempt suicide.

Consequences of bullying and suicidal depression

Bullying and suicide are interrelated in a way that depicts a cause and effect relationship. Hence, anybody having this query, Does bullying cause suicide?, will know well by now that bullying is a major risk factor for suicide. Bullying not only causes suicide but has many other negative consequences, as given below:

  • Suicide: Bullying leads to self harming behaviors, and in that state of trance, anybody will be vulnerable enough to think of suicide at least once.
  • Low Academic Performance: Bully victims often have focus and distraction issues, which leads to poor academic performance and lower grades. 
  • Job Performance: Employees who are bullied not only lose motivation, but they also waste time avoiding the aggressor.  Bullying victims usually display decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and difficulty concentrating because of the mental anguish it causes. Adults who were bullied as children could still be emotionally scarred on the job. As a result, there may be issues with communication, teamwork, and general job performance.
  • Poor Self Image: Bullying can destroy someone’s sense of self. Victims may internalize critical remarks and form a skewed opinion of themselves, which results in low self-esteem and self-worth. 
  • Low Confidence: A victim of bullying loses confidence over time. They might start to hold back on speaking up, taking on new tasks, or standing up for what they believe, which might impede their personal and professional development.
  • Avoidance Behavior: Bullying victims may exhibit avoidance behaviors, such as skipping class or work, staying away from social gatherings, or not going after chances they think they might not succeed in.
  • Long term impact: Bullying can have long-lasting impacts that last into adulthood. Years after the bullying has occurred, people may still battle with their self-esteem, confidence, relationships, and performance.

Signs of being Bullied and how to catch them

Early intervention and support depend on being able to spot the indicators of bullying. Observe the following typical warning signs and learn how to spot them:

Physical Signs

  • Unexplained injuries- Frequently occurring, inexplicable cuts, bruises, or other ailments
  • Frequent physical ailments or illnesses, frequently brought on by stress
  • Damaged or misplaced things – Personal belongings, such as books or clothing, are destroyed or mysteriously disappear.
  • Frequent Illness- Frequently used as an excuse to avoid going to school or engaging in social situations, complaints of headaches, stomachaches, or other physical ailments

Emotional and Behavioral Signs:

  • Mood Swings- sudden mood swings with anxiety, excitement, and irritation 
  • Changes in Eating or Sleeping Patterns- Sleep cycles are disrupted by distorted eating habits. 
  • Avoidance of Specific Places or Activities-Attending school, particular classes, or other places out of fear or reluctance
  • Expressing Feelings of Hopelessness or Despair- feeling helpless, hopeless, or suicidal

Social Signs:

  • A sudden loss of friends and withdrawing from them. 
  • Social isolation – spending time alone and becoming a little extra introverted. 
  • Negative encounters or abuse online, including through social media or messaging applications, have changed bully victims online behavior.

Communication Signs:

  • Having vague statements about things or having distorted speech 
  • Disclosure: On rare occasions, a victim of bullying will speak openly about their experiences with someone they trust.

How to deal with bullying

As a victim

  • If someone is bullying you try to stay composed dont show any reaction to them. If it’s physical try to stay safe by getting out of that place as soon as you see them walking towards you.
  • Try to respond to bullying in a way that sends an empowering message to the bully and shows that you are unaffected by it. Dont show aggressive responses. 
  • Notify the appropriate parties, such as moderators of online platforms or school administrators, about any events related to bullying. For investigations, keeping track of bullying incidents can be essential.
  • To deal with psychological distress, it is affirmative for you to seek professional help. 
  • Cope with online bullies and avoid places where you could potentially be bullied, e.g., blocking people who are threatening or bullying them, changing your route back home, etc. 
  • Confide in someone of your trust like a family member, a teacher or a counselor.
  • Record any instances of bullying, including the dates, times, places, and details of what had happened. When contacting authorities to report bullying, this documentation may be helpful.
  • Make sure you have a strong network of friends and allies on your side who can be there for you when things go tough.
  • Take part in stress-relieving and wellness-enhancing self-care activities. Exercise, mindfulness, pastimes, and quality time with family and friends can all be helpful.
  • Learn about your legal rights and safeguards against bullying at school or at work as well as in your municipal legislation. Place-specific laws and regulations exist.

As a bully

If you are someone who kind of bullies others then you should;

  • Know that it is socially unacceptable behavior that is causing harm to your self image as well. 
  • To foster empathy put yourself in the shoes of the victims, to understand the thoughts and viewpoints of the victims better.
  • Recognize that you have been acting in a bullying manner. Tell the truth about the harm you have done to other people.
  • Spend some time thinking about why you’ve been bullying people. Try to comprehend the root causes, which may include rage, insecurity, peer pressure, or a desire for power and control.
  • If it’s safe and appropriate, express your sincere regret to the victims of your bullying. Be explicit in your apology, show sincere regret, and refrain from making hollow promises.
  • Participate in anti-bullying campaigns or programs at your school or in your community. 
  • Seeking the help of psychologist to reach the underlying issue for exhibiting this behavior, for example anger issues, childhood trauma, etc. 
  • Monitor your activities on social media.
  • Establish measurable objectives for the ways in which you wish to alter your behavior. Keep an eye on your development and hold yourself responsible.
  • Work on acquiring constructive conflict resolution techniques so you can settle disputes without using bullying techniques.

As an observer

Support the victims when they get bullied. Stand up to the Bully and never reinforce the bullying behavior. 

  • As a bystander, it is important to know that reporting is a way of helping someone rather than tattling. 
  • Walking away with the victim or seeking help of the authorities could be a supportive gesture on part of bystander at saving victim. 
  • Never encourage bullying; always stand against it in support of the victim. 
  • You as a  caregiver can have open communication with the victim, empower them to speak up for themselves, and report if someone is being bullied.
  • Raising awareness in the form of anti bullying stance online or in person via campaigning is important. 
  • Make the bully understand that this behavior is unacceptable socially and earn them negative consequences. Teach them to be empathetic and monitor their activities online.

Coping strategies for suicidal depression

Does bullying cause suicidal depression?, was the question at hand, and it had already been answered in detail, but to know the link between the two, it is important to understand that bullying is linked to suicide via a major depressive disorder, which is commonly known as suicidal depression in layman’s terms. Now, to do away with suicide, it is important to deal with the depression causing it. The coping strategies are given below:

  1. Speak with a therapist or mental health expert who focuses on depression and trauma. They are able to offer direction, assistance, and therapy catered to your unique needs.
  2. When you talk to a person you trust, it lightens your mood and emptys your heart. Talking to someone in your circle where you feel safe would do wonders for suicidal depression. 
  3. Call a suicide prevention hotline or crisis helpline right away if you’re experiencing a crisis. You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the US by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). If you are someone who is around the person having suicidal depression, use the helpline to ask for help. 
  4. Work with a mental health practitioner to develop a safety plan that contains measures to keep you safe when experiencing extreme dejection
  5. In some circumstances, mood stabilizing medication prescribed by a psychiatrist may be required. A medical expert should be consulted in order to perform an accurate assessment.
  6. Join a support group for those who have dealt with depression or bullying. Finding like-minded people to connect with can be reassuring.
  7. Focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating wholesome meals, working out frequently, and getting enough sleep. Your mood may be favorably impacted by these elements.
  8. If you are a caregiver for the person who is having suicidal depression, try keeping harmful things away from their access like knife, guns, etc. 
  9. Try to listen to them actively and don’t interrupt until they are done with it.
  10. Check up on them when they are low, and keep in touch with them just to know their status. Try to stay as connected to them as possible. 
  11. Learn about bullying, suicidal thoughts, and depression. You can give more effective support if you are aware of these problems. Educate yourself first, then the community. 
  12. Do not ever let them alone, ensure their safety first. 


There is this idiom ‘under one’s nose’ which suits the bullying situation well, as one cannot really see or notice something that is happening in very close proximity to them. It fits well since people still show up to psychologists and ask, Does bullying cause suicidal depression? One such encounter has been described earlier as well.

Bullying is like a parasite that is taking the talent, potential, and creativity out of our youth at the hands of other toxic or negative psychology youth, hence ruining both of their lives. To summarize, bullying should never be an option to make your depression and negative sympathies with yourself take a toll on society as revenge for their behavior. Bullying is never justifiable, and it is the duty of the parents to make their children understand that ruining someone’s life by letting them carry on with bullying harms their mental and emotional state as well. 

Bully victims should never think of themselves as alone. There are many people who face bullies each day and have the courage to deal with them themselves. So can you! Break these shackles and the remote control you have given to the bully and have them in your own hands. You can turn the game upside down, trust me. They say, ‘Be the Game when somebody else is making the rules for you.’ 


Is bullying a factor in depression?

Yes, bullying is the leading factor in depression, and it links bullying to suicide as well. Bullying causes the victim to think of himself as low and weak, which leads to emotional imbalance and depression. 

Is bullying a risk factor for mental health?

Bullying has harmful, long-lasting implications for our mental health as well as our general well-being. Bullying can result in feelings of rejection, exclusion, loneliness, and low self-esteem. Some victims of bullying may also experience low moods and anxiety.

Is there a link between online bullying and depression?

Yes, online bullying and depression are interrelated. Students who engage in cyberbullying have higher rates of stress, depression, and anxiety than students who do not. According to Ybarra and Mitchell (2004), among those who cyberbullied, 39% dropped out of school, 37% displayed delinquent behavior, 32% frequently used drugs, and 16% had severe depression.

How does bullying affect mental health sociology?

By maintaining social hierarchies and power imbalances, encouraging exclusion, and causing psychological anguish, bullying has a significant negative impact on mental health in sociological settings and has long-lasting emotional repercussions for both individuals and communities.