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College Students Suicide and Bullying Essay (Article)


Can you imagine a student dropping out of college and compromising their future because of frequent online attacks from other students? Many people think that bullying is an issue in high schools only. However, it is as prevalent in colleges as it is in high schools. The misconception that bullying is a minor issue among college students has contributed to the high number of students who suffer because of bullying.

One of the reasons for the rising prevalence of this problem is the growth in technology that has been experienced in the last three decades (Schenk & Fremouw, 2012). Technological advancements such as cell phones and the internet are used to bully people. Bullying occurs in different forms. Students bully students, teachers, bully students, and students bully teachers. Another critical issue among college students is suicide.

In recent years, cases of suicide have been on the rise, primarily due to bullying based on race, gender, and sexual orientation (Pritchard, 2013). This topic is important because of its dire consequences on the lives o students, teachers, as well as its effect on the education system. This literature review seeks to explore previous studies that have been conducted on the aforementioned issue among college students.

Literature review

Cyberbullying is the most common form of bullying experienced among college students. Its prevalence has been primarily due to technological advancements that have been experienced in the past three decades. The emergence of the internet and mobile phones provided faster and more private ways of communication. Technology is responsible for the drastic shift from traditional bullying to technological bullying.

According to a study conducted by Schenk and Fremouw (2012), the effects of cyberbullying include depression, anxiety, paranoia, suicide, and phobic anxiety. The study involved 799 college students and showed that bullying affected victims differently. Suicide is one of the effects of cyberbullying. Schenk and Fremouw cited two cases of college students who committed suicide after being bullied. Bullying can be either direct or indirect.

Direct bullying includes stalking, harassing, and threatening. Cyberbullying is the most common form of indirect bullying. Schenk and Fremouw (2012) cite the results of similar studies conducted to study bullying. There are seven different forms of cyberbullying that include masquerading, defamation, harassment, cyberstalking, outing, flaming, and exclusion. These are conducted in different ways and are aimed at hurting the victim.

Studies have cited the prevalence rate of cyberbullying at between 4% and 55.3%. According to the Youth Internet Safety Survey, the prevalence rate of cyberbullying among teenagers is 9%. Schenk and Fremouw (2012) cite a study conducted by Beran and Li among Canadian students.

The study found out that more than 21% of the participants had been cyber harassed more than twice (Schenk & Fremouw, 2012). Another study conducted among undergraduate students found out that the prevalence rate of cyberbullying was 10%, and that of cyberstalking was 9%. Research conducted in Turkey involving 666 students found out that the rate of cyberbully victimization was 55.3% (Schenk & Fremouw, 2012). The results of these studies reveal that bullying is a problem that needs to be addressed in colleges.

Bullying takes different forms and happens in varied frequencies. Students bully students, teachers, bully students, and students bully teachers (Chapell, Casey, De la Cruz, Ferrell, Forman, Lipkin …Whittaker, 2004). A study conducted by Chapell et al. (2004) involved 1,025 undergraduate students. During the study, students were interviewed about their experiences with bullying in college. One of the students told the researchers that he frequently experienced the bullying of a fellow student by a teacher.

The teacher always hurled age-related criticisms at the student. Other students also narrated personal experiences of being bullied by teachers. The results of the study revealed that more than 60% of the participants had witnessed bullying among students, and 44% had witnessed the bullying of students by teachers (Chapell et al., 2004). Past studies have shown that cases of bullying decrease with age as students graduate from high school and join college. However, the aforementioned study invalidated those findings.

Cases of bullying are many in colleges. This study is supported by a related study that revealed that bullying among adults in workplaces is common. Harassment in colleges is usually an extension of bullying high schools (Rospenda, Richman, Wolff, & Burke, 2013). One of the main factors that contribute towards the development of bullying is influence from families and peers. Family factors that support bullying include authoritarian parenting and violence (Chapell et al., 2004).

On the other hand, authoritarian teachers play a role in encouraging vice in schools. Bullies view authoritarian teachers as proper role models and therefore copy their actions and try them on other students. According to Espelage and Poteat (2012), violence against teachers has been on the rise. For instance, a report titled “Indicators of School Crime and Safety” revealed that 7% of teachers in the United States reported cases of assault meted on them by students (Espelage & Poteat, 2012).

Students usually bully their teachers through verbal abuse and cyberbullying. Another form of maltreatment that is common in colleges is anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) bullying (Pritchard, 2013). People who are identified as queer are bullied, mainly based on their sexual orientation — this type of bullying results in many deaths that are not included in anti-bullying discourses.

One of the consequences of bullying in colleges is suicide. School killings are one of the reasons why the issue has elicited more interest in recent years. Research studies have linked several school killers to bullying. One of the reasons for school killings is the need for revenge by victims of harassment. Youth suicides in colleges are an indicator of a persistent problem that has been addressed inadequately (Espelage & Poteat, 2012). Other effects of bullying include school avoidance, anxiety, low self-esteem, and depression.

Teacher maltreatment has several effects that include lost wages, psychological distress, the abdication of duty, litigation costs, low productivity, and poor academic outcomes. Teachers who work in environments that have bullying either choose to leave the teaching profession or move to other schools. The effects of these actions have consequent negative effects on the performance of students (Rospenda et al., 2013).

Specific behavioral impacts of bullying on students include absenteeism, poor concentration, and poor academic performance (Schenk & Fremouw, 2012). Victims of cyberbullying avoid the internet, feel irritable, and lose interest in activities that they previously enjoyed. A study conducted in Finland found out that victims of bullying experienced frequent headaches, abdominal pain, emotional disturbances, and irregular sleep patterns.

On the other hand, the study found out that teachers cited diminished morale, low job satisfaction, poor work relationships, and a lack of commitment to their work. Bullying has serious short-term and long-term mental health effects that affect the welfare of victims. Alcoholism is also associated with victims of bullying in college (Rospenda et al., 2013). It is important to curb bullying by applying effective strategies that impart positive values and modify behavior.

One of the most effective strategies for dealing with bullying in colleges is counseling. Counseling psychologists play four major roles in the mitigation of bullying. These roles include consultation, promotion of social and emotional learning, prevention of bullying, and alleviation of student victimization. For instance, positive behavior intervention and supports (PBIS) programs classify students into three main groups based on their risk of developing behavior problems (Espelage & Poteat, 2012).

Major mitigation strategies include curricula that teach positive behavior, use of effective teaching methods, and instruction of students regarding appropriate behaviors in school environments (Espelage & Poteat, 2012). It is important to create environments that encourage positive student behavior. In addition, school management boards should establish behavioral expectations for students within the school. The involvement of parents and guardians in establishing behavioral expectations is important.

Collaboration between parents and teachers is critical in ending bullying because bullying is promoted by both school and family factors. Socio-emotional learning is also important in curbing bullying. This type of learning influences the psychological, emotional, and academic development of students in ways that promote positive behavior (Espelage & Poteat, 2012).

Moreover, it promotes self-awareness among students by imparting skills that help them to manage their emotions and develop values such as compassion and empathy. Social and emotional learning is important in decision making and relationship creation processes. Studies have found out that schools that implement curricula that include social and emotional learning experience better student behavior outcomes (Espelage & Poteat, 2012).

It is important for colleges to seek evaluation assistance in order to determine the effectiveness of their intervention strategies. Bullying is influenced by many factors that include race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. It is imperative for schools to address the problem from different perspectives.

Finally, colleges should address prejudice and diversity issues among students (Espelage & Poteat, 2012). Students from dominant groups discriminate against students from minority groups and as a result, bully them. Creating awareness on the importance of diversity is an effective strategy for curbing bullying.


Bullying is an issue that has not been adequately addressed. Many people assume that bullying only exists in high schools. However, several studies have found out that it also exists in colleges and workplaces. Cyberbullying is the most common form of bullying experienced in colleges because of advancements in technology. Students bully students, teachers, bully students, and students bully teachers. One of the major effects of bullying is suicide. Many students commit suicide as a result of being bullied.

Other effects include depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, paranoia, absenteeism, and poor academic performance. The effects of bullying among teachers include low productivity, lack of job satisfaction, and low morale. In many colleges, people who are considered as queer are common victims of bullying.

They are prejudiced and discriminated against because of their race, gender, and sexual orientation. Strategies to curb bullying include psychological counseling, the establishment of behavior expectations in college settings, and implementation of curricula that encourage positive behavior among students. Further research needs to be conducted to study the prevalence of bullying in college, its effects, and the various strategies that students use to cope.


Chapell, M., Casey, D., De la Cruz, C., Ferrell, J., Forman, J., Lipkin, R.,…

Whittaker, S. (2004). Bullying in College by Students and Teachers. ADOLESCENCE, 39(153), 53-64.

Espelage, D. L., & Poteat, V.P. (2012). Counseling Psychologists in Schools. APA Counseling Handbook of Counseling Psychology, 2, 541-566.

Rospenda, K. M., Richman, J. A., Wolff, J. M., & Burke, L. A. (2013). Bullying Victimization among College Students: Negative Consequences for Alcohol Use. Journal of Addictive Diseases, 32(4), 325-342.

Schenk, A. M., & Fremouw, W. J. (2012). Prevalence, Psychological Impact, and Coping of Cyberbully Victims among College Students. Journal of School Violence, 11, 21-37.

Pritchard, E. D. (2013). For Colored Kids Who Committed Suicide, Our Outrage Isn’t Enough: Queer Youth of Color, Bullying, and the Discursive Limits of Identity and Safety. Harvard Educational Review, 83(2), 320-345.

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