The High Risks That Can Lead to Suicidal Thoughts

Communication is the most important trait in all disciplines and careers, though it is not what is said but what is heard. As a Communication major, it is important to know all sides of an issue before truly being informed of a topic. Social Media has become so important to comprehend in order to be informed, create followings, and making a popular brand for either an individual or organization. Online networking is now entwined with most markets and target audiences. The newer generations such as Y through Alpha have grown with these technologies. This is where the concern lays. With pressures of normal teenage drama and the stress of constant online contact are changing the effects of mental cognitive. You are viewed in worth through likes and shares. Popularity of how many pictures, post, or comments you create.

A constant upkeep to stay connected. How long you can keep a Snapchat conversation stream going  without breaking the flow. Teens today are consumed by the 24/7 social media platforms. With online usage beginning younger and younger with each generation. Teens are vulnerable while they are developing emotional health. Pushing limits in this stage can create extremes in behavioral actions. Research into this subject is important because lives can be saved. Treatments and counselling will become updated, and mentors will better understand how newer technologies are changing mind development. The positive side of social media is being shadowed by the high risks that can lead to suicidal thoughts, planning, and actions. This topic is very important to me because it hits close to home. I teach dance at a local studio in Northern Virginia and one of my best students attempted suicide during the summer.

She was lucky to have real friends that reached out for help and is fine today. What lead her to such an act was cyberbullying and the pressures in social media. After she was treated and received counseling, she came to me as her dance mentor to explain her actions, so that at least one teacher knew what was going on and someone close to her age that would not cast judgment. She related that after the school year ended she started focusing on posting on twitter and Snapchat, while joining an app that her friends suggested called Wut Wut. An anonymous app chat that links contacts from Facebook. After successful posts in the beginning of summer she started to only focus on social media. Her family went on several beautiful vacations but was disconnected from the family because of her smartphone. Mid summer she found that she was not invited to certain friend group events and that her so called friends were making fun of her in Wut Wut. What sent her into her down spiral was when someone screenshot her snap, edited it in a cruel fashion, then sent it out to their friend group. This sent her to a bottle of pills. Teens her age are exposed to such pressures and take extreme actions. I wish to better understand this issue to give others hope to push through. That teens need to balance their virtual reality and real world events.

This research would be conducted in a respectable fashion and keep bia out of the picture. The data will be used to save others and spread awareness. Thanking you in advance for your kind attention to this matter.IntroductionAs more people connect to the Internet, researchers are beginning to examine the effects of Internet use on users’ psychological health. This research will consider if Internet use is positively correlated with depression, loneliness, self-harm, stress. A study that increases understanding of the influence of social media on teenage suicide.  The dependent variable would be the victims that use social media. The independent variable would be social media. Social media includes cyberbullying and positive followers. This research will give more understanding on how social media effects on daily basis.The aim of this study was to investigate the consequences of friend networking sites (e.g., Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat) for young adults self-esteem and well-being. Depression is common and frequently undiagnosed among college students. Social networking sites are popular among college students and can include displayed depression references.The key aims of social media research is to monitor any growth in use and inform health promotion efforts that are aiming to utilize communications newer technologies.

This is important to be explored to understand the relationship between social media use and health-related factors. The relationship between social media, its usage, and health have produced conflicting data in the beginning of the technology century. Some studies find  social media may include health-enhancing potential through several human mechanisms. Internet social networks based on media platforms may increase the social support and interconnectivity among teens and young adults. Positive feedback on the profiles enhanced adolescents’ social self-esteem and well-being, whereas negative feedback decreased their self esteem and well-being. User-generated information increased, internet content sharing will monitored by democratic and variable controlled. Exchanged health data that is related to internet use will enabling users to understand the need and making the information more variable/consumer-centered.In this generation of technological sophistication, teenagers have begun to spend more time communicating via social networking. Recent reports have blamed both social media and the teenage emo subculture for encouraging and oppressing suicidal behaviour online. In many of these uncensored, unrestricted online communities, have unnoticed destructive and dangerous conversations between teens.

This study is aimed to determine the portrayal of suicide and self-harm on social media sites by analysing the representation of these behaviours among teenagers on the popular social networking site Facebook. As such, with evidence now pointing towards a connection between teenage use of social media and the increase of positive and bullying perceptions of suicidal behaviour, further this research into the role of new forms of media in suicide.This research will contribute to examining the relationship between issue framing, personal opinion, and perceptions of public opinion. In 2012, Anxiety UK conducted a survey on social media use and its effects on emotions. The survey found that 53% of participants said social media sites had changed their behaviour, while 51% of these said the change had been negative. Using Social media regularly has been proven to cause many serious negative health effects; many teenagers start to form “Facebook Depression” this is caused by cyberbullying and being harassed online (O’Keeffe and Pearson,2011). Peer acceptance is an important element of adolescent life.

The world online is thought to be intense which is a factor that triggers depression in adolescents. With offline depression, young adults and adolescents suffering from Facebook depression risk themselves with social isolation, which in turn becomes risks on Internet sites and blogs for “help” that may promote substance abuse, unsafe sexual practices, or aggressive or self-destructive behaviors (Herr, 2007). Young adults and adolescents online today have become risks from and to each other, from the improper use of technology, lack of privacy, sharing too much information, or posting false information concerning themselves or others (Barnes, 2006). When Internet users visit various Web sites, they can leave behind evidence of which sites they have visited. This collective, ongoing record is called the “digital footprint”, active web data. Young people risk one of the biggest threats on social media sites with their digital footprint and future reputations. Adolescents and young adults who lack this awareness of privacy issues often post inappropriate messages, images, and videos without understanding that what goes online stays online (Palfrey, Gasser, and Boyd, 2010). These post become consequences for future jobs and college acceptances. Each may be put into jeopardy by inexperienced and rash clicks of the mouse. Indiscriminate Internet activity also can make children and teenagers easier for marketers and fraudsters to target.

The impact of publicized suicide stories on suicide in the real world has been marked by considerable debate and inconsistent findings. The present study analyzes 293 findings from over 40 studies on the subject published between 1974 to 1996. Measuring the studies with the presence of either an entertainment or political celebrity suicide show 14.3 times more likely to find a copycat effect do to media coverage. Studies based on real stories as opposed to fictional stories were 4.03 times more apt to uncover an imitation effect. The amount of media coverage was a significant predictor of copycat effects with televised stories being 82 percent less likely to affect suicide than newspaper-based stories. There was some data was found for period effects, and stories were linked more often to the incidence of suicide attempts than suicide completions. People create accounts on social media platforms to connect to others while putting their best “parts” online. These digitals communities do not carry the same level of loyalty and human connection that real world relationships hold. In the virtual world it is easy to say harsh and criticising comments behind a screen. This unfortunately outweighs the support sites that are the positive side of media platforms.

Teens have a higher connection to their emotional senses, which is why they respond to so intensely to both rejection and connection with relationships via digital or real world. Social Media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter do allow the ability to reach others and networking. The downside of this connection is exploiting the vulnerability in a person’s frame of mind, risking mental health. Technology platforms have improved through the decades, generations Y through Alpha growing with the changes. With so many people’s lives intertwined with social media, daily lives are revolved around these platforms. The Pew Research Center held surveys pooled from 2000 through 2016 show the increase of smartphone ownership. In 2012 households in America crossing the 50 percent mark, rising with the teen depression and suicides. By 2015 teens with access to a smartphone increase to a striking 73 percent. During 2017 the Pew Research Center found two sets of data linking mental health issues to time spent on the internet and the increase of teen depression with smartphone use.

They found that 71 percent of teens who spent more than five hours a day on the internet were more likely to risk suicide. This ranges anywhere between depression, planning, thinking, or attempting suicide. Teens that struggle with suicidal thoughts are influenced by social media. They use media platforms to judge self-worth and find sense of identity. Teenage years are a struggle for everyone, a time of emotional and mental development. Outside influences on social media can cause negative effects on mental health. Pressures from social media are fueling the teen suicide epidemic not slowing it down. The existence of bullying is nothing new, attacks on others and demeaning a person will always be around. Unfortunately with the increase of teens owning a smartphone, bullies now have access to victims 24/7. The scale has increased due to the anonymity offered on some apps. These platforms removing user identity take the human emotion out of the cruel judgment. Social media can affect teen mental health in multiple negative ways. Writing posts and expecting any form of reinforcement their peers becomes addictive.

This leads to more time spent online and on handheld devices. Which in turn leads to lack of sleep, creating anxiety and irritability. Sense of privacy becomes transparent. This comes from the urge to record and share anything and everything that is deemed worthy. As moments are experienced, teens disrupt the flow in the moments with stopping to take pictures and posting online. Instead of being absorbed in the activity they cut off the experience to share the moment with their peers. Other problems that arise in teens are the symptoms similar to drug withdrawal after periods of time without social media connection. An obvious negative aspect is the lost of human interactions. The face to face relations are lost to teens on their phones all day typing on a screen instead of traditional communication of talking to a person. Social media allows teens to put their best foot forward with the allowance to keep their struggles to themselves. This gives the perspective of a perfect life, an ideal form of themselves. This is a form of narcissism that make peers feel unworthy in the own lives and image, causing depression.

While others only sharing their perfect version of their life, teens can feel that they can never live to people’s online persona. With the loss of self-identity with online ideals, rises the disconnection from personal interaction that leads to cyberbullying. As one’s online perfection is increased in popularity, the more judgmental they become of others less perfect lives. Creating a sort of online peer pressure among teens.These judgements and pressures from peers can cause depression within teens who either already at genetic risk or can gain through their personality. The pressures that come with being a teenager, the emotional and physiological development can be pushed to limits. This is due to low self esteem, the aim to be perfectionists, personal and peer criticism, and over all negative thoughts. Symptoms can include hopelessness,loss of interest, insomnia, fatigue, feeling worthlessness, guilt, social isolation, and suicidal thoughts. Teen depression affects negatively on school performance and relationships with family and friends. What many people don’t understand about teen depression is that it is a gradual process that is often missed.

Teens need help to cope with what they are experiencing online. Peer envy when scrolling feed, accepting friend requests real or fake, or the lows of social media that linger in the mind. These pressures can lead to extreme actions in teens, where emotions are almost always on high.The influence of social media on teen suicidal behavior has increased with each of the coming years. There is the media contagion effect, when teens are exposed to suicidal related content through relationships or traditional and modern media platforms. A form of media contagion is the werther effect. This is a behavioral contagion that is featured in fictional suicides demonstrated in literature or films. After being exposed to such examples, copycat situations arise. What was is normally taboo becomes social norms.  The name comes from the earliest known link between media and suicide, The Sorrows of Young Werther, a novel written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1779. The eponymous character’s death inspired many young men to copy the death. The most recent example of this is the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why”.

The main character, Hannah Baker, is a teenager who commits suicide and explains her motives on a recording. This glorification of teenage suicide through social media has inspired many teen girls around the age of 15.The idea behind social media is to connect people, unfortunately this is also the reason why people feel alone. Teens get mixed in judgements and critical thoughts that lead to cyberbullying. The indulgence of this bad behavior behind the black screen becomes an addiction. This desensitizes the human emotion of humility, making it easier to send hurtful messages all the while sitting in a chair. Eliminating looking into someone’s eye, nothing stopping them from being indecent to peers. Social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, feature pictures of their peers having fun and hanging out with others. Friends, of a select group, smiling and posing for images that are for posting purposes. Lives so picture perfect that peers may feel left out and unworthy.

A major risk of this unworthiness is social isolation. Time that is spent on the internet equals less time in face to face interaction with others. Less time to enjoy other activities, meet with friends or family, or getting any sort of exercise. Teens that are affected by the negative results of social media are heavily influenced by the filtered version of others perfect lives. Media platforms can lead teens to feel envy for others, while provoking an experience known as “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out). Seeing friends posting events that others were not invited to. Pressures to post attractive images and comment on others to gain likes. With the the inability to control what someone posts about others. This intensifies negative emotions of low self esteem and worthlessness.                         Process  Qualitative research provides a method for researchers to learn about a phenomenon that has little research by exploring the experiences of people in their natural environment rather than confirming or denying a preconceived theory. As social networking site usage is a phenomenon that has received little research focus this research will use a qualitative phenomenological methodology.

Consent forms: A consent form will be constructed for students to sign. This will allow the researcher to record answers, conduct an interview, and to use the comments to calculate results. By completing the form the participant is indicating that they are above the age of 18 and agree to the all the following terms. The form will ask basic questions related to the participation of the activity, whether the student would allow the use of name, year, and degree, or to remain anonymous. If sharing results of questionnaire is allowed. As well as keeping the participant aware that they can stop the interview at any time and may have the choice to not answer any question. Demographics Questionnaire: A demographics questionnaire will be created for this study that included standard categories such as age, gender, and college level. This information was useful when identifying themes among the participants. Some of the questions will be posed as open-ended questions. This allows people to answer in their own words and emotions. The use of this type of questioning will help to find what are the most common answers. This will lead to closed-ended questions, from a multiple choice list that will help with data ca

Expected Product: The goal of this research is to spread awareness. This understanding will help those miss the normal signs. Teens who are contemplating suicide may give subtle signals. Thinking about or planning suicide, seeking self-harm, the increase substance abuse, feeling of worthlessness, spikes in anxiety, withdrawing from family and friends, as well as unusual expressions of anger and mood swings. The numbers of teen suicides are increasing with such silence force that many suicide preventions are focused on finding the warning signs. This report is to spread understanding to general audiences, including suicide awareness classes in public and private schools, community clubs, and local organizations. Community support, counseling, and interventions can help future, present, and past suicidal behaviors. To help prevent teen suicides, adults who mentor young people need to know the risks and warnings, subtle and extreme, to give accurate advise. For the best appropriate help for that time and as quickly as needed. With these findings adults and peers can do better that before with the rise in awareness in the negative effects of social media on the teen psyche. Practical information on a critical topic to help save lives. These findings will become a red flag to the social norm, how desensitized and willing teens become to suicide due to the entertainment industry, and what non normal warning signs. This report is to explain that smartphones and media platforms are not completely responsible for suicidal thoughts. It is the exposure and human nature behind the screens that push teens to suicidal thoughts and actions, risking young lives.

Faculty Mentor Dr. Christianne Esposito-Smythers is the Assistant Professor in the Clinical Psychology department. Her main focuses lay in adolescent suicide and substance abuse, development of cognitive behavioral programs. She also is an Adjunct for the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Brown University.  At George Mason University Dr. Esposito-Smythers is the Director of Clinical Training, and is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. In the Fall of 2018, she will teach PSYC 861-002: Cognitive Behavior Therapy Youth. Her mentorship would help guide me to ask critical questions without pushing insensitive limits. Dr. Esposito-Smythers has hands on experience and not only in research but in clinical help. As a mentor she would lay paths to how to steer this research to benefit both victims and peers. The synopsis report would be written in a communication format with the supply of clinical data. Dr. Esposito-Smythers’ current research involves the development of cognitive behavioral interventions for adolescent suicidal behaviors. She studies the risk factors of social cognitive processes. She has been funded several grants from the high ranking organizations such as National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Nation Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She has co-authored research publications, for instance “Treatment for adolescents following a suicide attempt”, “Developing and testing interventions for adolescent suicidal and non-suicidal self-injury”, and “Suicidal behaviors among children and adolescents”.

Implications This research is to increase suicide awareness. The concern is that suicide prevention programs do not put new leading facts into focus. With generations centered around social media, organizations are not up to speed on warning signs, new risk components are not effective. This information is to effectively reduce the teen suicide rates. Exposing suicidal behavior will increase treatments and crisis intervention. Leading to the decrease of suicide thoughts and attempts. The rates of suicide in teen have become a major problem. Suicide is now become the second highest common cause of death for teens. Factors include not only vulnerability, but also mental/emotional, cultural, relations, and social contributors. Social media and contagion influences play an important role in the psychological development in the teenage mind. Programs that fight against self harm and suicides need to aim more in high risked teens. Challenges arise from the effects of newer types of media.Results of this research will be collected and sent to the Eastern Communication Association Convention. The theme of the Convention is Building Bridges. How we build bridges within different disciplines? What is the benefit gained from communicating with many communities to promote better connection? The submission will be into the Undergrad Panel Discussions. Teen suicides influenced by social media findings would be the discussed issue within the appropriate time limits. Eastern Communication Association Convention is an undergraduate student opportunity to participate and experience academic service, free of charges. Outcomes of this research analysis the online activity among teens on social media.

How the media platforms, television or internet, glorify, normalize, and socially accept teen suicidal behaviour and determined social networking online are used to either encourage or push peers into the extreme actions around suicide. The evidence will prove the connection between social media use within the teenage community and the perceptions of self defeating behaviors that lead to teen suicide as the answer. Findings in this report will explain the role of the forms of social media that teens are exposed to, promoting the suicidal contagion that is resulted. The highlights of the research would identify the concern of teen time used online. The unsafe risks of the social platform role in the expressing positivity and social norm of self harm or suicidal actions. The influences online networking sites open doors to a variety of risks and extreme thoughts and behaviors. Evidence and results from the collected data would increase a clearer understanding of teens as a targeted group for high risks, and that any existing programs and mentors need to become more aware of newer technological norms in a teens life.

Internet use was once a positive connection between people, has become a sort of addiction that leads teens to suicidal thoughts and actions. The influences of negative normalising such extreme behaviors creates a gap between safe and harmful discourse. With channels to cyberbully other teens has increased and risks of depression and passing thoughts of suicide. Exposure for such long periods of time and the vulnerability teens face behind the screens lead to negative effects on the developing teen mind.