Leading Suicide Prevention Organization Warns Parents about Social Media Game

Leading Suicide Prevention Organization Warns Parents about Social Media Game
Posted on 08/08/2017
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13 Reasons Why: Resource

'13 Reasons Why' tied to rise in suicide searches online - CNN.com.  Regardless of the varying opinions about the show, 13 Reasons Why started a conversation about suicide and mental health. The topic of teen suicide was elevated based on this research study which has forced the conversation at schools and at home.  The article linked above has some great suggestions for parents on how to talk to their kids about the subject, especially in advance of the show’s second season, coming out next year. 

How to Responsibly Talk about the Blue Whale Challenge

Earlier this year, stories about the “Blue Whale” challenge began to circulate in spite of little evidence that this was a real game or concern. With more US media outlets reporting on and sensationalizing this challenge, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention released the statement below and a press release.

Validity of the Blue Whale Challenge is Disputed, but Social Media’s Impact on Young People’s Mental Health is Real

Many media outlets are reporting on the “Blue Whale Challenge,” a social media game that allegedly encourages young people to engage in self-harm and suicidal behavior. While we have no evidence the Blue Whale Challenge is a real phenomenon, we do know that social media—in all forms—can have a significant impact on mental health, especially for young people.

Youth are among the highest-risk groups for suicide: according to the CDC, 17% of grade 9-12 students reported seriously considering suicide in the past 12 months. We urge parents and educators to sit down with children and youth and talk about social media’s potential impact. Kidshealth.org provides useful guidelines for having these conversations. It’s essential to talk openly and honestly about mental health, depression, and thoughts of suicide—and whether social media use might be a contributing factor. While many discussions hinge on the negative effects of social media, its positive impact cannot be ignored: social media can be helpful for people who are suicidal and unable to reach out in person.

Youth struggling with thoughts of suicide usually present with warning signs. In young people, these warning signs might be seen as talking about death or hopelessness, extreme irritability, pulling away from friends and family, and loss of enjoyment in their usual activities. If you notice warning signs, reaching out quickly and talking openly about suicide can help save a life.

AAS President Julie Cerel says, “Anytime a child dies by suicide, we search for the reason why. Suicide is complicated and never has a single cause. By implicating events like the Blue Whale Challenge as the cause of youth suicide, we risk minimizing someone’s emotional pain and further discriminating against those who are suffering.”

Resources available for support:

WA State County Crisis Lines

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line - Text HOME to 741 741

TREVOR Project - 866-488-7386

Trans Lifeline - 877-565-8860

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