Who Is Responsible for a Suicide by Bullying

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 14 and 25 to 34 in the United States. But this devastating statistic only tells part of the story. Countless of these lives were lost because of bullying. No one deserves to feel so powerless and hopeless because of someone else’s intentionally harmful actions that they choose to take their own life rather than face their tormentors. 

If you have lost a loved one who was intimidated, abused, or harassed into believing their life was not worth living, you may be wondering if you can hold someone accountable. The answer depends on the unique circumstances—but in many cases, the bully and any person or organization that allowed the harassment may potentially be liable for the death of your loved one. 

What Is Considered Wrongful Death? 

In New Jersey, when one person dies as a result of the legal fault of another person or entity, a wrongful death claim may be applicable. Unfortunately, suicide is one of the known consequences of bullying, but each case is unique and has to be evaluated on its own merit. The most important part of a wrongful death case is to demonstrate a direct causal connection between one party’s actions and another party’s death. 

Examples of Bullying

Bullying is a broad term that can describe various forms of intimidation, harassment, abuse, neglect, emotional harm, and more. Here are some of the more prevalent examples of how and where bullying occurs.  

Physical Bullying

When there is a power and strength imbalance, victims are left defenseless. Physical bullies are usually bigger, stronger, and more aggressive than their victims. They typically harm their victims by causing physical pain or destroying their property. The kid who pushes everyone down on the playground is a bully. So is the high schooler who pours slushies on someone's head in the hall and the adult who is violent toward their partner. These are all examples of bullying that involve physical contact. 

School Bullying

Anytime bullying occurs on or around school grounds from student to student, it is considered school bullying. Unfortunately, this can occur at all age levels throughout the education system. Students as young as eight years old have committed suicide because of school bullying. At younger ages, students may not understand the consequences of bullying. That being said, it is unlikely that bullying severe enough to cause a child to want to take their own life was unnoticed by adults at the school. At the higher grade levels, students or their parents could potentially be held responsible for the bullying behavior. 

Cyber Bullying

The internet can be a brutal place. Social media makes it easy to spread lies and share photos or memes that make fun of someone. Some victims have taken their own lives because of websites created and dedicated to making the victim’s life miserable. This type of bullying can be relentless and spread quickly. Bullies never even have to be physically present to destroy someone’s self-worth. 

Adult Bullying

Bullying is not only for youth. Adult bosses, colleagues, neighbors, romantic partners, and even family members can also be bullies. Domestic violence is also a form of bullying. Being bullied relentlessly can inspire a sense of hopelessness. One would think that as an adult, one would understand the consequences of bullying. But some people never grow up, and they should have to face the repercussions of their actions. 

Who Is Responsible for Suicide By Bullying?

In some situations, wrongful death claims against bullies may be applicable. This depends on the age of the perpetrators, the nature of their actions, and evidence that connects the bullying to the suicide. School districts and other organizations may also be held liable under certain circumstances. 

You, as a loved one of the deceased, are not expected to have all the answers. But the fact that you are asking the questions is a huge step in the right direction. Though no amount of compensation can ever undo the pain your loved one suffered, holding the responsible parties accountable can help you feel a sense of justice and make the future safer for others. 

Contact Us

Our compassionate and experienced team of attorneys at O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, LLC, can help you navigate the legal process. Bullies and responsible parties should be held accountable for their actions or inaction. We offer a free consultation to help you determine if you have a valid legal claim and the best way to move forward. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

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