A new study revealed that teen suicide rates soared from 2010 through 2015, a time period marked by a surge in social media use worldwide. Researchers believe there is a link between the two phenomena.
Suicide rates among teenagers abruptly rose in 2010 despite being on a declining trend for about two decades.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which conducted the study, couldn’t tell exactly why the rates went up, but there may be a link between social media use and teen suicides.
Some of the possible causes may be cyberbullying and other social media users’ ‘perfect’ bodies and lives although most of those images on social media were heavily doctored prior to posting. These two factors may take a heavy toll on adolescents’ frail mental health.
Teens that were surveyed on the impact of social media on their self-esteem acknowledged that Instagram and other similar platforms makes them feel worse about themselves. “I feel left out,” a 17-year-old respondent from Colorado said.
Another teen noted that nobody on Instagram reports the bad things in their lives. In Colorado, students have been rallying against social media-related teen suicides in their communities. During one of these campaigns, participants, who were mostly teens, pledged not to use social media or the Internet for 30 days.
The CDC Findings on Teen Suicide Rates
The CDC team sifted through the suicide data between 2009 and 2015 and a couple of national surveys on teen behavior in their study. Around half of million teens took part in the study.
Participants agreed to answer questions related to device use, social media use, time spent with family and friends, and print use. Teens were also asked if they’ve ever felt hopeless or contemplated suicide.
The analysis, which appeared in the journal Clinical Psychological Science found that from 2009 to 2015:
- the number of teens that are using electronic devices like smartphones for more than five hours per day jumped from 8% to 19%
- the number of teens who reported a sense of sadness or hopelessness or contemplated suicide rose from 32% to 36% in boys and from 40% to 45% in girls
- girls who use social media on a daily basis are 14% more likely to be diagnosed with depression than their peers that use the online platforms less frequently.
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