Bullied siblings at risk of developing suicidal intentions

London: Depression, suicidal thoughts, and self harm are more common in young adults who were bullied as children by family and friends, according to a study. The findings of the research, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry, revealed that sibling bullying is linked to self-harm, suicide attempts, and depression at 24 years of age.

While earlier research had identified that sibling bullying affected mental health in adolescence, the scientists part of the Frontiers study found that children who experienced sibling and peer bullying had double the odds of developing clinical depression and considered suicide. The researchers, including those from the University of Warwick in the UK, found that the risk of developing mental illnesses increased further if the same children were also bullied by their peers at school.

As part of the study, the researchers asked participants to self-report bullying when they were 12 years old, and noted their experiences with depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and self-harm at 24 years old. They found that about 31 per cent of the 3,881 youths part of the study experienced bullying by a sibling. According to the researchers, about 15 per cent of those who were both became victims, and also bullied siblings, were diagnosed with clinical depression, nearly 36 per cent experienced suicidal thoughts, and 16 per cent of them self-harmed.

"This is the first study to show that being bullied by siblings has adverse effects on mental health into adulthood, when the siblings are not living together anymore," said Slava Dantchev, co-author of the study from the University of Warwick. Dantchev added that those bullied at home were also more likely to be bullied by peers and had no safe space at school or at home. "This further increased their torment and affected their mental health," she said. The researchers said that sibling bullying often started when children are young, and that it is important to educate and help parents to intervene and reduce bullying between siblings in early childhood.

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