Cyberbullicide, defined by Cyberbullying Research Center’s Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin as “suicide indirectly or directly influenced by experiences with online aggression” (Hinduja & Patchin, 2009),” has been on the rise in recent years: “One major outcome that we have seen in recent years has been the increase in suicides related to an experience with bullying.”

The phenomenon of cyberbullicide, while already increasing, has been potentially worsened by the mass isolation that individuals in many communities have experienced throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

What’s happening here, and what factors are contributing to the increase?

Cyberbullying + Suicide:

"The link between traditional bullying and suicidal ideation was established previously in research, but only within the twenty-first century have scientists began to research the relation of suicide to cyberbullying. One study that surveyed students about whether they were ever cyberbullied and whether they had suicidal ideation and/or attempts found that 19.7% of females and 20.9% of male respondents were seriously thinking about attempting suicide, while 17% of females and 20.2% of male respondents attempted suicide. Cyberbullying prevalence rates ranged from 9.1% to 23.1% for offending, and victimization rates ranged from 5.7% to 18.3% (Hinduja & Patchin, 2010). In another study done in 2014, it was found that school bullying and cyberbullying is 27.4% prevalent and those who report either one are at higher risk for reporting two straight weeks of sadness, suicidal ideation and attempts, and trying to get treatment for their suicidal tendencies (Messias, Kindrick & Castro, 2014)."

  • Reference: The Connection Between Cyberbullying and Teenage Suicide: An Honors Thesis
  • Citation: Sierra Crosby (University of Maine) Spring 5-2018
  • Link:

New Digital Technologies Enable Anonymity:

"The anonymity of cyberbullying removes many restraints on meanness and amplifies the ferocity of aggression. It’s easier to inflict pain and suffering on others when you don’t have to look them in the eye. Constantly evolving digital technologies enable new ways of spreading false information about targets."

  • Reference: Bullying
  • Citation: Psychology Today
  • Link:

Anonymity Desensitizes the Perpetrator:

Anonymity based apps "where users’ posted content is not attached to user names or profiles were reported to be more conducive to blatant bullying."

Masking one’s identity in the online world (anonymity) has a contributing factor which can desensitize the perpetrator, is frequently emphasized in the literature." (Hinduja & Patchin, 2009; Vandebosch & Van Cleemput, 2009)

  • Reference: Social Media Companies’ Cyberbullying Policies
  • Citation: Tijana Milosevic University of Oslo, Norway 1-10-2016
  • Link:

Anonymous Q&A Apps Adversely Affect Teens:

"It can bring out the worst in some tweens and teens when they feel like they can ask their friends questions anonymously without having to take responsibility for their words….Time and time again, we’ve seen anonymous Q&A apps like the YOLO app turn into breeding grounds for negativity and bullying."

  • Reference: Yolo App Is Bad For Teens (Parent Safety Guide & Video)
  • Citation: Smart Social 05/30/2020
  • Link:

Teens Are Less Likely to Report Anonymous Cyberbullying:

"Anonymity creates a power imbalance between harasser and victim which lends itself to bullying."

Low reporting with anonymous cyberbullying- Only 12.5% because teens:

  • Worry that Social Media/Internet Access will be eliminated if they report
  • Lack of trust in reporting because adults will not keep it confidential and teens will be socially excluded
  • Worry that they cannot prove that bullying occurred because of anonymity which leads to feeling more threatened and helpless.
  • Fear of “I told you so” response from parents who have warned against social media.
  • Reference: Exploring the Impact of Anonymity on Cyberbullying in Adolescents; An Integrative Literature Review
  • Citation: Brooke Mascotto BScN University of Ottawa, 2015
  • Link:

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