According to a working paper circulated by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the passage of new anti-bullying laws in multiple states is working to reduce the number of suicides. The number of suicides has been on the rise for the last decade or so, but it seems like raising awareness, creating support systems and developing school policies has slowed the increase in depression and also suicidal ideation.
Anti-bullying laws have now been enacted in all 50 states within the last two decades and it is making a difference. For many years, we saw numbers decrease. In the early 1990s, studies showed that 29% of high schoolers said they thought seriously about killing themselves in the previous year, and levels went down to the point when, in 2009, just 14% of them reported feeling that way. Over the past decade, however, that number has gone up to 17 percent.
Numbers of actual suicides have decreased, however, for non-white females and LGBQ students. Females are more likely to report anxiety or depression. It is possible that this occurs because many females report that the source of their mental suffering is teasing, exclusion from activities and insults, which can happen in school without attracting the attention of adults, and can also take place through social media, both in and out of school.