Could the new movie “Bully” encourage kids to commit suicide? Show Notes

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 Host(s): Dr. Bill Maier
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Could the new movie “Bully” actually encourage kids to commit suicide? As you may have heard, even though the documentary has its problems with profanity and violence, it is being hailed as an important film about a difficult subject,

But now questions are being raised about one of the teen suicides chronicled in the film.  Emily Bazelon, a reporter for Slate, writes that the facts don't completely support the film's contention that bullying equals suicide.

In the case of 17-year-old Tyler Long, she points out that Bully doesn't mention that Tyler was also diagnosed with ADHD, bipolar disorder and Asperger's syndrome, all of which could have played a role in him taking his own life. The film also doesn’t mention that Tyler’s suicide note mentions a lack of support from his own family.

Ann Haas, a senior project specialist for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, says "it's really misinformation. The filmmakers had the opportunity to present bullying as a trigger, as one factor that played a role in a young person's suicide. But to draw a direct line without referencing anything else—I'm appalled, honestly. That is hugely, hugely unfortunate."

Haas also worries about the so-called “contagion effect.” She points out that one message of the move is: 'Bullying kills'—as if it's a normal response to kill yourself, when of course most people who are bullied don't do that.

She says that young people who feel bullied could think back to the movie, and it could cause them to seriously consider suicide.”

By the way, if your child is being bullied, or if you’re a student and you’re aware of a kid who’s being bullied at your school, you can find some good advice on how to help by going to bullyingprevention.org.

I’m Bill Maier for family-friendly, commercial free, WBCL.

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