Clinical psychologist Erica Lam says children who are bullied are at greater risk for attempting suicide.
Lam, clinical director for the Alex Panton Foundation, said the foundation, along with the Ministry of Community Affairs, plan to bring that message to the public and will present the first in a series of seminars on the prevention of bullying behaviour Thursday evening.
Lam said the programme is an effort to focus on behaviours that are linked to suicide, as revealed in a recent survey, and educate the public in dealing with those behaviours. She said the programme is directed at parents, youth leaders, youth coaches and other adults that work with children.
A similar series of lectures last year focussed on educating the public about children who engage in self-harm, another behaviour that is associated with increased risk of suicide.
“The idea is to address each of these risk factors,” Lam said, noting that other such factors include physical and/or sexual abuse, and binge drinking. “We want to bring the community all to the same level of understanding.”
Lam plans to provide those attending with information on recognising the start of bullying behaviour and tools to intervene.
“How do you nip that in the bud, where teasing becomes verbal bullying?” she said.
Once that transition takes place, the behaviour can snowball.
Children with mental health issues are particularly vulnerable as bullying targets, Lam said, and they often react to such instances in a way that encourages further bullying, creating a downward spiral.
Thursday’s event is from 6:30-8 p.m. at Webster Memorial Church Hall in Bodden Town. Other presentations will be held:
- April 9, John Gray Memorial Church, West Bay;
- April 30, East End Civic Centre, East End;
- May 8, North Side Civic Centre, North Side;
- May 21, South Sound Civic Centre, George Town.
- All times are 6:30-8 p.m.
The two agencies also plan to present a series of seminars on recognising at-risk behaviour in young men. Lam said troubled boys typically engage in such things as antisocial behaviour, gang-related activities and carrying weapons. Those behaviours can also make boys more susceptible to suicide, she said, adding that there is a disproportionate success rate between genders.
“Men are three times more successful at taking their own lives [than women],” she said.
The young men at risk seminars are scheduled for the following days, all times are 6:30-8 p.m.:
- June 5, Bodden Town Civic Centre, Bodden Town;
- June 19, John Gray Memorial Church Hall, West Bay;
- July 3, East End Civic Centre, East End;
- Aug. 7, South Sound Civic Centre, George Town;
- Aug. 28, North Side Civic Centre, North Side.