Suicide risk is doubled by online bullying
Cyberbullying makes young people more than twice as likely to self harm or attempt suicide, a major new study has shown.
The growth of social media has left many youngsters vulnerable to online bullying, which can include sending threatening, humiliating or intimidating messages or posting hurtful comments or images.
Around a third of young people claim to have been victims, but the new research suggests it can have damaging and deadly consequences.
Researchers at the Universities of Oxford, Swansea and Birmingham reviewed previous studies on cyberbullying which involved more than 150,000 under-25s across 30 countries over a 21-year period.
They found cyberbullying raised the risk of self-harm or suicidal behaviour 2.3 times.
Professor Ann John, of Swansea University Medical School, who led the study, said: "Prevention of cyberbullying should be included in school anti-bullying policies, alongside broader concepts such as digital citizenship, online peer support for victims, how an electronic bystander might appropriately intervene; and more specific interventions such as how to contact mobile phone companies and internet service providers to block, educate or identify abusers."
The researchers say youngsters involved in cyberbullying should be screened for common mental disorders and self harm.
Perpetrators were also around 20pc more liked to have self-harmed or attempted suicide than non-bullies.