Division of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC, United States of America. email@example.com
The purpose of this study was to determine the extent of news reports of deaths associated with bullying and hazing among young people over a period of 57 years. This study was based on a survey of death events linked to bullying or hazing reported in English newspapers from January 1, 1950 through December 31, 2007. The search was based on the review of major United States and world publications, written in English, using the terms "bullying, hazing, ragging, and death." In the last 57 years, at least 250 reported cases of deaths were linked to bullying, hazing, or ragging, reported in English language newspapers from around the world. Of these news stories (n = 121), 76% contained an alleged history that the victim was bullied. Twenty-two per cent (n = 55) of these reports were associated with suspected hazing or ragging. In only four cases (2%), those who died had a history of bullying others. The majority of the reports of bullying related deaths (62.3%) originated in Europe, with most of them (93%) occurring in the United Kingdom. Sixty-seven percent of bullying-related deaths were reported during the last 10 years.
CONCLUSIONS: The significant increment in news reports concerning deaths associated with bullying may be the result of a rise in public awareness about the lethal aspects of this type of maltreatment. An urgent global public health need exists to ascertain the regional mortality prevalence related to bullying and hazing, along the lifespan.