This October 20 marked “Spirit Day” — to raise global awareness about bullying, cyber-abuse and in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or queer (LGBTQ) youth.

October is also being observed as anti-bullying month in the United States where suicide is the third-leading cause of death for the 15 to 24 age group. A disproportionate number of bullied youth in the U.S. are gay. LGBTQ and anti-bullying activists have started online campaigns such as the "It Gets Better Project" to reach out to victims directly to prevent suicides.

Recent victims include American teenager Jamey Rodemeyer, 14, and Canadian student Jamie Hubley, 15, who killed themselves this year after being taunted online for being gay.

In recent years, bullying-related suicides have garnered national media attention and prompted a sit-down discussion between pop star Lady Gaga and U.S. President Barack Obama.

A recent study by the Associated Press and MTV revealed that 56 per cent of American teens have been the victims of online harassment. In several U.S. states, lawmakers have responded with tougher legislation on bullying.

Experts say increased social media use and easy access to technology are partially to blame for the nature of cyber-bullying around the world.

In 2008, South Korean actress Choi Jin Sil committed suicide, apparently provoked by online gossip over the details of her divorce. Bullying is also rampant in universities across India where dozens of suicides are linked to intimidation and cyber-abuse every year.

The Stream speaks with Latoya Peterson, editor of, and Shaheen Shariff, principal investigator with Define the Line, an anti-bullying organisation.

What do you think can be done to combat bullying? Send us your thoughts and comments on Facebook or Twitter using hashtag #AJStream.

These are some of the social media elements featured in this episode of The Stream.