Bullying – when I decided to commit suicide!
Bullying is the most experienced but less talked about evil phenomenon in our society. At an individual level, it sometimes leads to suicide while as at a collective level it leads to civil war. Here, Khan Ansur, who once happened to be its victim, writes about it.
“Whenever I would utter my name, I was mocked and ridiculed for it was, and in fact, it is, altogether a different name from the rest. Many times, some of my relatives also were party to this humiliating attitude.”
Persistent intimidating acts intended to make life unpleasant for another person can be called bullying. Bullying is said to be, and, in simple terms, when a person with more power – repeatedly and intentionally – commits any inappropriate behavior against another person with the motive to cause hurt or harm. Bullying mainly involves bullies – those who bully – and victim(s) – those who are bullied. Mostly, it is perpetrated on the basis of name, color, race, ethnicity, religion etc. Bullying has several types: verbal; physical; sexual; cyber; prejudicial; etc. In verbal bullying, the perpetrator(s) uses wrong words & statements, sexist comments, mocking and name-calling in order to sabotage the victim(s). In physical, bullies use physical actions like hitting, punching, stealing, spitting and slapping (Craig, 2014). In sexual, inappropriate as well as humiliating actions that target a person sexually such as sexually abusive language, sexual name-calling, inappropriate touching, spreading nasty gossips about someone’s sexual orientation, vulgar gestures etc. Cyberbullying means bullying through the internet, e-mail and text messaging (M. Rutter, 2008). In cyberbullying, the perpetrator uses the internet to harass, threaten, or embarrass the victim. This type of bullying is most common nowadays and it is regarded as the most dangerous form of bullying as, most of the time; the perpetrator remains anonymous from the victim(s). And the distinct characteristic of this form of bullying is that victims are hardly able to seek help. Prejudicial one is different than others described above as in, in this type of bullying, perpetrators target an individual’s ethnicity, sexual orientation, colour, religion or race to vilify and criticize victim(s). It is also common nowadays and the campaign “Black Lives Matter” is the by-product of this type of bullying only as most Africans living in the US were bullied on the basis of their color.
Bullying is a more dangerous issue than it seems. Whoever is exposed to bullying, will develop behavioral issues and, if a child is continuously experiencing bullying, s/he will, inevitably, have long term consequences on his overall development. In a literal sense, it kills a person, most particularly a child, silently. It leads a child to go for wrong steps like suicide, substance abuse, truancy, etc.
Bullying at Schools
“My classmates would always leave no opportunity to pronounce my name wrongly and make fun of me. Even some of my teachers would humiliate me for my name if I err. When I would complain to any teacher about bullying, they would hardly bother about it. And eventually, my health, specifically my mental health, got deteriorated due to the daily humiliation at the hands of school-mates as well as teachers.”
Apart from other issues related to children, bullying has a different trait; that is, it mostly happens covertly. Its incidents remain hidden from the teachers as well as others who are responsible for supervision at school (Craig, 2014). Its trait, being covert, makes the children, particularly those who are powerless and non-assertive, more vulnerable to develop behavioral issues. Schools, nowadays, have turned into a hub of bullying. There, some students – with possible power due to class, height or weight – bully others and in some cases, teachers also happen to be perpetrators and the anecdote stated above corroborates with the theory.
Bullying at school has serious repercussions on the mental health of children. Not only it impacts the psyche of the victim but it also hampers the social functioning of the bullier – having an equal impact though. On one hand, the victim has to face bullying at various levels. On the other, the bullier has to face a social boycott from her/his significant others and s/he, if not counselled or managed at the right time, gets into the realm of conduct disorder or substance abuse. In some cases, the bullier turns out to be a juvenile delinquent. It must be noted, as mentioned in Bullying in School, that when children get bullied at school, “they take it home with them at night. It lives inside them and eats away at them” (Lisa H. Rosen, 2017).
Consequences of Bullying
“Daily, this was making me angry as well as confused, and I would always ask myself – who was the person behind choosing this humiliating name for me? If I ever get to know that person, either I would kill her/him or I would kill myself.”
Bullying may result in leaving serious marks upon the major developmental faculties of children including physical, psychological, social or educational. In terms of educational harm, there will be poor attendance, decreased academic performance or school refusal in the victim. If the bullying (in the form of ragging) exacerbates at school, it can go to an extent that a child may want to have changed in her/his school. In psychological, aggressive behavior, irritability, social withdrawal, sense of helplessness, guilt & shame, depression, low self-esteem (Fast, 2016), substance abuse etc. are commonly found in victim(s). Self-harm may also be present in victims as well as in perpetrators. Physical consequences include sleep disorders, stomach aches, headaches, palpitations, bed-wetting etc. Bullier doesn’t remain without serious repercussions; s/he also has to face them which include; peer rejection; conduct issues; suicide; aggression; etc. The significant part of bullying is that there are always witnesses which are witnessing the bullying incidents. The issues it comes to the witnesses are; bystander conflict; role confusion; modeling and insecurity based on their fears of retaliation. That means, in nutshell, it doesn’t leave anyone impact-less.
Bullying leads to SUICIDE
“One day, when I lost my temper, I felt hopeless as well as helpless from this continuous humiliation. I, therefore, decided to commit suicide and end my life. All of my problems, with this act, will ultimately end.”
The victim of bullying may develop poor mental health, suicide ideation and attempts (M. Rutter, 2008). Having been exposed to all major issues and odds of life through bullying; the victim feels unfit to live on earth and the daily humiliations make him feel that s/he cannot survive like this; therefore, suicide becomes the only viable option to evade bullying. Jonathan Fast, in his book Beyond Bullying, maintains that, if a child is continuously going through bullying episodes, he may feel her/his life insufferable and suicide will be an attractive option for her/him. Interestingly, among teenagers, suicide is found the most common cause of death and, maintaining the same tone, Fast says, half of these suicides occur in response to bullying (Fast, 2016). This is the reason, writers like Neil Marr and Tim Field coined the term Bullycide which means “a death triggered by Bullying” as the victims are found at the increased risk of depression and suicidal behavior (Glen Evans, 2003).
Resolution of the conflict
“Finally, I got to know that this name was chosen for me by my paternal uncle and it has a good meaning!”
Victims of bullying always find themselves helpless as well as hopeless. They do not find any way or hope, they give up resolving this conflict and eventually, they succumb to the invisible injuries of bullying. Most of the victims are not able to find a remedy for bullying. Rarest are those cases in which victims find their remedy, and fortunately, I was one of them.
“When I was going through continuous bullying, at first, I decided to end my life but then I thought I should give life a chance and seek answers from people and mainly from those who are really involved in this matter. When I got to know, my name was chosen by my paternal uncle, I straightaway went to meet, not with the motive to kill him, but to seek answers from him. Being at the final stage of decisions, without any delay, I asked him to tell me the meaning of my name. He, without further delay from his side as well, bluntly said, “Helpful and Success”. These two words gave me my life back and ultimately I found salvation. Perhaps he knew my urgency, perhaps he knew I was going through a mental trauma for a long time. Thus, in this way, I became happy and found new life in this previously called humiliating name. It became the beautiful ever name for me. After that, I didn’t bother about bullying for I was aware of its meaning. When I wasn’t reacting to people’s bullying on my name, they stopped and I got rid of it forever.” Alhamdulillah!
1. Craig, D. D. (2014). Bullying Prevention and Intervention in the school environment: Factsheets and Tools. PREVNet.
2. Fast, J. (2016). Beyond Bullying: breaking the cycle of shame, bullying, and violence. New York: Oxford University Press.
3. Glen Evans, N. L. (2003). The Encyclopedia of Suicide. New York: Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data.
4. Lisa H. Rosen, K. D. (2017). Bullying in School: Perspectives from School Staff, Students, and Parents. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
5. M. Rutter, D. V. (2008). Rutter’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Massachussetts: Blackwell Publishing Limited.
Khan Ansur is working as a Psychiatric Social Worker (PSW) at Child Guidance and Well-Being Center (CGWC)-IMHANS, Kashmir under the Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (MHPSS) Program of UNICEF-India. He can be mailed at Khanansurfeb2011@gmail.com.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of Oracle Opinions.