Suicide is the leading cause of death for girls 15-19* worldwide and suicide rates for females 10-14 have tripled since 1999, the most alarming increase.
We have to ask ourselves why.
Some say social media. Others site early puberty. While those factors might be part of it, I think that it’s a combination of things.
Teens, by nature, want to fit in. At this age, their peers are the most important relationships. They don’t want to be rejected or ostracized.
I think technology is a major reason
With computers, smartphones, social media and texting combined, teens have a hard time limiting themselves to get a break. Night owl teens will give up sleep in exchange for covert, nighttime messaging and socializing.
What’s worse is that word spreads easily and quickly. So if, for example, a teen is the subject of an embarrassing picture, it can be shared through text and posted online in front of hundreds and even thousands very quickly.
Humiliation is then difficult to escape, compounding any prank, single act of bullying or vengeance. Victims are overwhelmed and surrounded by the kind of intense social disgrace young girls don’t yet know how to cope with. They don’t know that this time in their life is but a blip on the radar screen and years from now, they won’t even remember it.
What’s important is right now.
If that same victim gets ousted from a sport and then suffers some other setback, the situation is ripe for potential suicide.
We all know young girls can be pretty mean and not understand the consequences of such actions. So technology gives predators of all kinds access to girls at a tender age of transition.
Around 2012, more teens in large national surveys started to say they felt hopeless and useless—classic symptoms of depression. In a large, government-funded study designed to screen for mental health issues, the number of teens with clinical-level depression rose substantially between 2011 and 2015. Most troubling, the child and teen suicide rate increased sharply.
The biggest issue studies found, is that this age group is spending less face time with friends. That lack of connection is having disastrous results. Technology and mobile phones is one reason kids are spending more time with their phones than they are with their friends. And when they do, they are often glued to their phones instead of the person in front of them.
Kids need limits on technology which can be hard for super busy parents to follow through with. These digital devices give kids too much too soon. And not enough human connection.