Scrolling may be linked to sui­cide

Edmonton Sun - - COFFEE BREAK -

CHICAGO — An in­crease in sui­cide rates among U.S. teens oc­curred at the same time so­cial me­dia use surged and a new anal­y­sis sug­gests there may be a link.

Sui­cide rates for teens rose be­tween 2010 and 2015 af­ter they had de­clined for nearly two decades, ac­cord­ing to data from the fed­eral Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion. Why the rates went up isn’t known.

The study doesn’t an­swer the ques­tion, but it sug­gests that one fac­tor could be ris­ing so­cial me­dia use. Re­cent teen sui­cides have been blamed on cy­ber­bul­ly­ing, and so­cial me­dia posts de­pict­ing “per­fect” lives may be tak­ing a toll on teens’ men­tal health, re­searchers say.

“Af­ter hours of scrolling through In­sta­gram feeds, I just feel worse about my­self be­cause I feel left out,” said Caitlin Hearty, a 17-yearold Lit­tle­ton, Colorado, high school se­nior who helped or­ga­nize an off­line cam­paign last month af­ter sev­eral lo­cal teen sui­cides.

“No one posts the bad things they’re go­ing through,” said Chloe Schilling, also 17, who helped with the cam­paign, in which hun­dreds of teens agreed not to use the in­ter­net or so­cial me­dia for one month.

The study’s au­thors looked at CDC sui­cide re­ports from 2009-15 and re­sults of two sur­veys given to U.S. high school stu­dents to mea­sure at­ti­tudes, be­hav­iours and in­ter­ests. About half a mil­lion teens ages 13 to 18 were in­volved. They were asked about use of elec­tronic de­vices, so­cial me­dia, print me­dia, tele­vi­sion and time spent with friends. Ques­tions about mood in­cluded fre­quency of feel­ing hope­less and con­sid­er­ing or at­tempt­ing sui­cide.

The re­searchers didn’t ex­am­ine cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing in­di­vid­ual sui­cides. Dr. Chris­tine Moutier, chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer at the Amer­i­can Foun­da­tion for Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion, said the study pro­vides weak ev­i­dence for a pop­u­lar the­ory and that many fac­tors in­flu­ence teen sui­cide.

AP

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