Author: Debashrita Manik, I year of B.A.,LL.B.(Hons.) from KIIT Law School, Bhubaneswar
There is increasing evidence that social media has been a huge impact on the teen influence which also leads to suicide. Social media is a relatively new phenomenon which takes the world to entirely a new level. Humans often get influenced by the way the information is being shared, not trying to know the depth of truth in it. The emergence of social media has sparked the popularization of certain terms. These come with a need for steadiness in other to prevent the awful consequences it poses on mental health and well-being. Unfortunately, social media usage has hyped the act of suicide both directly and indirectly. It has indeed resulted in an advanced way of suicide risk factors and suicide-related behaviours.
Teenagers find it very alluring to get connected among their peer groups by the means of social media. They are the most fragile personalities, without proper guidance and utmost care they can even lead themselves to self-destruction.
Impact of Social Media on Teens
When seeking reasons for juvenile suicide, it’s quite obvious to place the blame on social media. It is, after all, an all-encircling medium for communication, entertainment, creativity, comparisons and gossip that many parents and paediatricians didn’t experience for them when they were teens. It is also suggested by some experts that, excessive use of social media often exposes kids to cyberbullying, body shaming, comparisons and peer pressure, the physical unhealthiness of sacrificing sleep and exercise that can lead to poor mental health or aggravate an existing mental health condition. [i]Kids or teens who use social Medias more than three hours a day might lead to the intensified risk of suffering from mental health and depression(JAMA Psychiatry, 2019). But, unfortunately, there are still no proper shreds of evidence to support the concern of social media being involved in teenager depression.
A survey conducted for the 14-24 year olds in the UK, how social media platforms impacted their health and well-being. The survey results found that Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram all led to the increased feelings of depression, anxiety, poor body posture and isolation (RSPH, UK, 2017).
Teen depression is a much concerned mental health problem that causes the preserving feeling of sadness and loss of interest in any sort of activities. Although depression can occur at any time in life, symptoms may vary between teens and adults.
A 2017 study states that over half a million eighth among the 12th graders found that the number exhibiting high levels of depression symptoms increased by 33% between 2010 and 2015. At the same time, the suicide rate for girls in the same age group is increased by 65%. Social media and depression are very well connected as kids only get themselves involved in looking into others’ life, forgetting they also have their own to live. The comparison and the showing off- of the status often impact the juveniles and that leads to depression which is a matter to be looked upon.
Cyberbullying and the Fraud Syndrome
Peer acceptance is a huge thing for adolescents, and many of them care about their image. So, kids can spend hours trimming their online activities, trying to portray a popular image. Adolescent girls frisk through thousands of photos, too acute over which ones to post online. Boys compete for attention by trying to overcome others, by pushing the envelope as much as they can in the already offensive atmosphere online. Kids gang up on each other. The cases of cyberbullying and frauds are much common these days and the sole reason behind this is Social Media. The comparison of others’ with one’s self creates many furies among the fragile generation. The evil eyes of the society can humiliate or use the pictures uploaded for any sort of inhuman activity which creates much havoc. Body shaming, which is a crime in the eyes of law, is also promoted openly on social media platforms.
Social Media provokes Suicidal Thoughts
The media cares to publicize videos and social media posts to inform the country of the rising trouble, which may create a favoured appeal to the fragile and immature minds of the adolescents. Social media could provide higher risks with the promotion of different kinds of pro-suicidal sites, messages, chat boxes, and forums. The role the Internet plays (social media) to be more precise, in suicide-related behaviour is a topic of growing interest.
Some of the well-known suicidal apps were [ii]The Blue Whale Challenge, Alt. Suicide. Holiday, Momo Challenge Hoax, Suicide Pacts and many more. Such heinous internet games were considered as sources of entertainment once but were soon banned by the government after leading to much suicide of the teens, especially.
Suicide and Suicide-Related Behaviour
Suicide is a fatal word that calls to take priority as a major global health concern. It is simply taken as a cowardice act of an individual to end his/her life, voluntarily. In the so-called modernized society, suicide is the main cause of deaths suffering from depression, taming, bullying, comparison and many more. [iii]However, it may vary from age groups and sex and certainly, no one is immune to it. Suicidal thoughts or suicide can also be prevented as it can be shown through signs and behaviour provided, if detected at an early stage, by going through counselling sessions or any kind of advice to the concerned person.
Social Media is needed to connect with people throughout the globe, but however excessive use of anything often leads to disastrous effects. The same happens with the teens as well. Social media, if used in a regulatory manner can be a boon to everyone rather than getting bullying online which leads to depression and then suicide. It has both disadvantages and the advantages, which depends on how one utilizes it. Suicide is never a solution to any kind of problems, rather facing it with utmost guts and solving with proper implementation of mind won’t create such brutal voluntary deaths.
[i] Social media, internet use and suicide attempts in adolescents- JAMA Psychiatry, Vol 32, Issue 6, pg 534-541
[ii] Dasgupta, Rana (2017-08-29).
[iii] Suicide and Self-Inflicted Injury- 2011