Teresa McGeeney, Epidemiologist with REACH Evaluation of Louisville, Kentucky received the School Health and Education Services award for outstanding student research at the APHA annual meeting November 4-8 in Atlanta.
Teresa is pictured below with Dr. Vignetta Charles, CEO (left) and Dr. Karin Coyle, Chief Science Officer (right) for ETR, the organization sponsoring the award.
Teresa’s research found that when students knew how to report bullying at their schools they were 36% less likely to attempt suicide, after controlling for other factors. When they felt their school’s method for reporting bullying was effective, they had a 66% reduced likelihood of attempting suicide. The effect held for both bullied and non-bullied students. Most schools have anti-bullying policies in place, but 20% of the students in our sample did not know what they were and roughly 40% of students didn’t think their school’s method was effective. These students are at a higher risk for suicidal behavior, especially if they are bullied.
Teresa stated, “In the context of rising suicide rates nationwide among adults and youth, we must take actions to protect and support those who are most vulnerable. Making sure that every student knows how to report bullying and working with students to ensure that the policy actually helps them is a no-brainer – a low-cost and easy intervention to save lives.