School calendars closely correlate with Google search patterns for the terms “bullying,” “stress,” and “depression” — an insight that may have profound implications for the way educators deal with suicide, the third leading cause of death among ages 10 to 24.
Over the past ten years, Google Trends data reveals a cyclical search pattern. Searches for these words peak during the fall and spring semesters, and drop predictably during Thanksgiving, Christmas and summer breaks.
To better understand the cycle, take a closer look at the year 2016:
Research has shown that teen suicide rates are at their highest during the academic year, but bottom out during summer months — a pattern that does not hold true for adults.
The cause may be that summer break also provides a break from classroom woes and interactions with bullies.
For educators, this connection poses a challenge. High-profile teen suicides have made headlines while policymakers continue to discuss solutions.
Currently, federal law requires all schools that receive taxpayer dollars to file reports on harassment, discipline and bullying. During her confirmation hearing last month, newly appointed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos suggested the reporting requirement might be best left up to the states.
She said, “I would look forward to reviewing that provision.”
Melania Trump has indicated cyberbullying will be one of her top priorities as first lady, though she has yet to take public action.