Social Media Use Linked to Teen Suicide

Experts believe increased online use may prompt suicidal thoughts among at-risk teens, as they compare their lives unfavorably to what others post. (Ryan Melaugh/flickr)

You may want to limit your teen’s use of social media.
A study released this month in the journal Clinical Psychological Science found links between use of online engagement platforms and feelings of hopelessness and suicide.
According to the analysis, teens who used electronic devices for more than five hours a day were 70 percent more likely to have suicidal thoughts.
Scott Ridgeway, executive director of the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, says the loss of human interaction is a big factor.
“When our young folks are spending quite a bit of time on these devices, they are isolating themselves from social activities, and they’re taking themselves away from interactions from other folks,” he explains.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teen suicide is on the increase in recent years, and cyber bullying and isolation from increased use of devices are believed to be two major factors.
Ridgeway says in addition to limiting online activity, parents should monitor what sites their children are visiting and watch for any changes in behavior.
He says another consequence of people posting so much about their day-to-day lives is the appearance that the lives of others are perfect or ideal, and teens may compare themselves in an unfavorable way.
“It’s pressures that are put on students and friends that shouldn’t happen, and then those are emotions that are really taken out of context,” Ridgeway states.
Ridgeway says his group and others are concerned about entertainment that may glamorize suicide or offer instruction on how people may take their own lives, such as the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why.”