Some people consider bullying to be a problem reserved for young people. While bullying is certainly prevalent among children and young adults, it is not restricted to these groups. Bullying in the workplace is a common problem. A recent survey of workers showed that workplace bullying increases the likelihood of the victim having suicidal thoughts. In fact thoughts of suicide were twice as likely among victims of workplace bullying as among those who have not been targeted.
Workers were surveyed in 2005, 2007 and 2010 to develop a picture of the impact of bullying over time. The study found that between four and five percent of workers are bullied in the workplace. The percentage of workers who reported thoughts of suicide ranged from 3.9 to 4.9 percent. The researchers looked at several aspects of the bullying to draw conclusions.
The workers who reported suicidal thoughts early in the study were not more likely than other workers to later be the victims of bullying. Those who reported being bullied early in the study were more likely to report thoughts of suicide. That demonstrates that the bullying is the likely cause of the suicidal thoughts, rather than the other way around.
There are many ways that a workplace can be hostile. In some cases, workers are subjected to abuse based on sexual orientation, race, gender, ethnicity or another protected category. Some workers are sexually harassed as part of a campaign of bullying. In other cases, however, the bullying is not based on a protected classification under state and federal law. In those cases, it can be difficult to put a stop to the problem through the legal system. Studies like this demonstrate that workplace bullying carries a high cost. It should be against the law in all situations, regardless of the reasons given for the bullying. There should not be protected categories of bullying. Forcing workers to deal with the problem on their own, often with tragic results, is not the proper way to address workplace bullying.
Source: Reuters, “Workplace bullying may increase risk of suicidal thoughts,” by Lisa Rapaport, 18 September 2015