Researchers have finally found that workplace bullies can drive their targets to suicide. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health revealed that targets of abuse at work are twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts than those who were never bullied.
Researchers defined bullying as harassment, badgering, and freezing out that:
It happens so often that there’s now a term for it. “Bullycide” happens when the cause of suicide is attributable to the victim having been bullied.
Researchers also tested to see if qualities of workplace bullying targets warranted uninvited psychological assaults. They found nothing: zero data to support reason to blame the victim. In other words, targets are not simply those with exploited weakness.
In fact, evidence shows the opposite. Targets are often high performing, highly ethical employees whose competence poses a threat to their low performing, low ethical bosses. The bully’s only real motivator is to battle the target while having the upper hand – an unethical tactic used to uphold the image they long for but are unable to get through competence:
An abuser’s typical recipe:
The public often finds fault with the people who take their lives. And mental health folks rarely understand the severity of abusive conduct at work’s effect on targets’ lives, so they discount the contribution of abuse at work and instead point to family and financial matters as root cause.
But the reality is that workplace bullying can cause a target to abandon hope over time, to not see a future or alternatives. Abuse tactics are often so outrageous that no one believes the target when a bully attacks. They think the target must have done something wrong or exaggerates. Then abandonment by coworkers and impatience of family members and friends lead to utter loneliness and despair. When everything they try fails, they lose all hope.
These responses are the natural. Depression and impaired decision-making are natural human responses to stress. Suicide is one example of impaired decision-making, in this case not seeing a way out.
All health harm from bullying is attributable to prolonged exposure. Stopping the source of stress can lead to recovery and heal the brain.
Though a family won more than $10 million in a private settlement for the bullying of a worker who committed suicide, there is no law to hold abusers accountable.
If you're considering harming yourself or need immediate assistance, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Take Your Dignity Back
If you feel like you’re stuck in a big rut that’s destroying your life, learn how to reverse the damage.
Right now, you wish you could just tell your bully at work to knock it off, report the problem to management, and show the bully how childish he or she’s behaving. At best, the bully’s sidetracking the goals of the organization. At worst, the bully’s threatening or maybe even destroying your life by abusing you: your health, your family, your career, your finances, and your happiness.
You know it’s not a personality conflict. You’re not too sensitive. You’re not thin-skinned. It’s downright abuse. You expected your work environment to support you to do the work you were hired to do. You expected to be treated with dignity and respect.
The organization doesn’t care. They think it’s in their best interest to ignore the problem — meaning you — and make you go away. When you speak up, you’re the problem. You’re treasonous. If you fight them, they’ll fight harder.
Meanwhile, you’re stressed out and angry, and it gets worse the longer the bullying goes on, making you an easier target for the bully. Your physical and mental health are depleted. You consider or take stress leave.
Find out what workplace bullying is, why it happens, what's worked — and what hasn't worked — for hundreds of other workplace bullying targets, and how to start the path to healing in this comprehensive online course drawing from the greatest minds in workplace bullying.
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