POS­SI­BLE LINK IN TEEN SUI­CIDE, SO­CIAL ME­DIA

The Garden Island - - Morning Briefing - Lind­sey Tan­ner

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-year-old 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, be­hav­iors 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.

The study was pub­lished Tues­day in the journal Clini- ham­mad, an Amer­i­can fencer who com­peted in last year’s Olympics while wear­ing a hi­jab.

Mat­tel Inc. said the doll will be avail­able on­line next fall. The doll is part of the Bar­bie “Shero” line that hon­ors women who break bound­aries. Past dolls have in­cluded gym­nast Gabby Dou­glas and “Selma” di­rec­tor Ava Du­Ver­nay.

“I had so many mo­ments as an ath­lete, where I didn’t feel in­cluded, where I was of­ten in spa­ces where there was a lack of rep­re­sen­ta­tion,” Muham­mad said Mon­day night at the Glam­our Women of the Year gala in New York. “So to be in this mo­ment, as a U.S. Olympian, to have Mat­tel, such a global brand, di­ver­sify their toy line to in­clude a Bar­bie doll that wears a hi­jab is very mov­ing to me.”

Muham­mad, the first Amer­i­can to com­pete at the Olympics while wear­ing a hi­jab, won a bronze medal in fenc­ing at the 2016 Rio Games. cal Psy­cho­log­i­cal Science.

Data high­lighted in the study in­clude:

Teens’ use of elec­tronic de­vices in­clud­ing smart­phones for at least five hours daily more than dou­bled, from 8 per­cent in 2009 to 19 per­cent in 2015. These teens were 70 per­cent more likely to have sui­ci­dal thoughts or ac­tions than those who re­ported one hour of daily use.

In 2015, 36 per­cent of all teens re­ported feel­ing des­per­ately sad or hope­less, or think­ing about, plan­ning or at­tempt­ing sui­cide, up from 32 per­cent in 2009. For girls, the rates were higher — 45 per­cent in 2015 ver­sus 40 per­cent in 2009.

In 2009, 58 per­cent of 12th grade girls used so­cial me­dia ev­ery day or nearly ev­ery day; by 2015, 87% used so­cial me­dia ev­ery day or nearly ev­ery day. They were 14% more likely to be de­pressed than those who used so­cial me­dia less fre­quently.

“We need to stop think­ing of smart­phones as harm­less,” said study au­thor Jean Twenge, a psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor at San Diego State Univer­sity who stud­ies gen­er­a­tional trends. “There’s a ten­dency to say, ‘Oh, teens are just com­mu­ni­cat­ing with their friends.’ Mon­i­tor­ing kids’ use of smart­phones and so­cial me­dia is im­por­tant, and so is set­ting rea­son­able lim­its, she said.

Dr. Vic­tor Stras­burger, a teen medicine spe­cial­ist at the Univer­sity of New Mex­ico, said the study only im- plies a con­nec­tion be­tween teen sui­cides, de­pres­sion and so­cial me­dia. It shows the need for more re­search on new tech­nol­ogy, Stras­burger said.

He noted that skep­tics who think so­cial me­dia is be­ing un­fairly crit­i­cized com­pare it with so-called vices of past gen­er­a­tions: “When dime-store books came out, when comic books came out, when tele­vi­sion came out, when rock and roll first started, peo­ple were say­ing ‘This is the end of the world.’”

With its im­me­di­acy, anonymity, and po­ten­tial for bul­ly­ing, so­cial me­dia has a unique po­ten­tial for caus­ing real harm, he said.

“Par­ents don’t re­ally get that,” Stras­burger said. don’t know about,” Kessler said, adding that it’s more likely that this tur­tle was just the last sur­vivor of what was once a big­ger pop­u­la­tion of tur­tles or a hearty trav­el­ing tur­tle that some­how made its way up the Mis­sis­sippi River.

How­ever it got there, be­fore it was found by Phillips it found at least one other tur­tle. The sci­en­tists know that be­cause on the day Phillips reached down and grabbed the fe­male tur­tle he thought he was reach­ing down for a smaller male tur­tle that has been wear­ing a ra­dio trans­mit­ter ever since sci­en­tists re­leased it into the same creek at least a year ago.

It was be­cause the wa­ter is so murky, Phillips had no way of know­ing that he was grab­bing the big­ger tur­tle and not the smaller one that was so close that it was ul­ti­mately pulled out of the wa­ter in the same spot.

“I was out surf­ing and I got this mas­sive thud on my right-hand side; it com­pletely blind­sided me,” Fry said.

“I thought it was a friend goof­ing around. I turned and I saw this shark come out of the wa­ter and breach its head,” he said.

“So I just punched it in the face with my left hand and then man­aged to scram­ble back on my board, shout at me friends and luck­ily a wave came, so I just sort of surfed the wave in,” he added.

Fry said he wasn’t con­scious of his in­jured and bleed­ing arm un­til he reached the shore.

“I didn’t re­ally no­tice it at the time be­cause when you’re surf­ing, all I’m think­ing was: ‘I’m about to die. I’m lit­er­ally about to die,’” Fry said.

“So I thought ... ‘get in as fast as pos­si­ble, ride the wave for as long as you can and then just start pad­dling for your life,’” he added.

Fry’s friends drove him to Gos­ford Hos­pi­tal, where they all worked, to be treated. The beach was closed for 24 hours.

Ibti­haj Muham­mad holds a Bar­bie doll in her like­ness at Kings Theatre on Mon­day in New York.

A rare, wild al­li­ga­tor snap­ping tur­tle in a creek in Union County, Ill.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.