Bullying, Suicide, and Self – Harm Among Individuals Who Are Overweight

The purpose of this report is to summarize and synthesize recent research evidence on the association between body weight and three indices of psychosocial functioning: bullying, suicide, and self-harm. The guiding research question was whether overweight or obese individuals are more likely to experience injury as a result of these difficulties compared with individuals who are of healthy weight.

A person is bullied when he or she is repeatedly exposed to the intentional negative actions of another person (Solberg & Olweus, 2003). Researchers have conceptualized a number of different forms of bullying. Physical aggression refers to acts involving physical contact with the victim (e.g., hitting, pushing), relational aggression refers to “harming others through purposeful manipulation and damage of their peer relationships” (Crick & Grotpeter, 1995). Suicide ideation is defined as “any thinking about, considering, or planning for suicide,” attempted suicide is defined as “a non-fatal self-directed potentially injurious behaviour with any intent to die as a result of the behavior,” and completed suicide is defined as “death caused by self-directed injurious behaviour with any intent to die as a result of the behaviour.” Self-harm or self-injury is defined as “the intentional destruction of body tissue without suicidal intent and for purposes not socially sanctioned” (Klonsky, 2007).

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