Suicide amongst teenagers is a very concerning event. In particular, bullying— including cyber-bullying— has been linked with depression, anxiety and suicide. Teenagers are not immune to mental health conditions and preventative measures can help boost mental health and reduce the risk of suicide.
A report by Fiona MacDonald on the 22nd of September, 2015 on the Science Alert website highlights a recent study that has found the benefits of exercise on mental health:
“A study of more than 13,500 high school students in the US has found that exercising four times a week is associated with a 23 percent reduction in suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts among students who have been bullied.”
Bullying is far more common than you probably think. Around 20% of students reported that they had experienced bullying first hand. Not only are these kids more likely to experience depression and anxiety, but their academic performance is also affected. This mix can be toxic to their wellbeing, and not surprisingly the risk of suicide for these kids is higher than their peers:
“… the study also found that bullied students are twice as likely to report feeling sad, and three times more likely to think about or attempt suicide than their peers who aren’t picked on.”
Bullying is notoriously difficult to deal with. Bullies are also using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to harass victims outside of school. What can be done to help prevent the effects of bullying?
The research has found that increasing exercise can help combat the risk of suicide amongst teenagers:
“… those who exercised four or more days per week were significantly less likely to feel sad for long periods of time, have suicidal thoughts, or attempt suicide.”
After controlling for other factors that could be involved, such as age, gender, and race, the researchers found that regular exercise was linked to a 23 percent reduction in suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts in bullied students.
While more can still be done to help prevent bullying in the first place, the outcome of the research is clear:
“Exercise can save lives.”
Encourage teenagers to exercise four times per week not only for their physical, but also their mental health.