Exercise Wards Off Suicidal Ideation in Bullied Kids

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Exercise can lead to a reduction in suicidal ideation and attempts in adolescents who are bullied.

Jeremy Sibold, EdD, of the University of Vermont, and colleagues examined the relationship between exercise, sadness, suicidal ideation and attempts in 13,583 adolescents in grades 9-12 taken from the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

Thirty percent of students reported sadness for 2 or more weeks in the previous year, while 22.2% and 8.2%, respectively, reported suicidal ideation and suicidal attempt over the same period. Bullied students were twice as likely to report sadness, and three times as likely to report suicidal ideation or attempts when compared to peers who were not bullied, the researchers reported in Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

However, doing exercise at least four days a week was associated with significant reductions in sadness, suicidal ideation, and suicidal attempt in all students. Results showed a 23% reduction in both suicidal ideation and suicidal attempt in bullied students who exercised at least four times per week.

The researchers added that the results indicate that exercise programs could be a public health approach to reduce suicidal behavior in all adolescents, especially since many schools do not offer to exercise programs unless a student is enrolled in a team sport.

Bullying Ends in Childhood, But Mental Toll Continues in Adulthood
Suicidal ideation and attempts were 23% lower in bullied students who exercised at least four times per week.

A study to be published in the October 2015 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) reports that exercise for 4 or more days per week is associated with an approximate 23% reduction in both suicidal ideation and attempt in bullied adolescents in the U.S.

Across the U.S., nearly 20% of students report being bullied on school property. Bullying is associated with academic struggle, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and self-harm. Exercise has been widely reported to have robust positive effects on mental health including reduction in depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.

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