Social media and the suicide crisis

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FOUR STATE AREA — About 15% of adolescents report having been cyberbullied at least once in any given year. Many experts are pointing to increased use of social media and cyberbullying as factors fueling the mental health crisis.

Eddie Culp, Therapist, Will’s Place. said, “They can’t separate their identity from the person in social media then that’s when I think it’s gone too far.”

Socialization is a part of growing up. If it’s one thing that’s constant in the lives of teens, it’s social media.

“You’ve got everything. You’ve got TikTok, Facebook, you got Instagram and so it’s the source they have for all of their communication.”

Culp says the main issues he’s finding with clients are either not wanting to discontinue social media use or not wanting to disengage.

“And many times that’s causing them either get in trouble or like not adhere to routines.”

And for some, he says, the problem can be deeper.

“‘They’re watching something on social media and they think well why is that not me or why can’t I do that. Or like, why am I not doing that well, so self worth is or I’m finding especially with my clients, since I do a lot of kids with ADHD or depression, I’m finding that self-worth is tied a lot into social media.”

Culp encourages parents to monitor and create boundaries for social media use–but not to completely eliminate use because that can cause adverse effects.

“Electronics tend to be currency for a lot of kids and they tend to take it away all at once and yea that’s a big no no.”

While it can be difficult to decipher when social media starts to negatively impact your child’s mental health, Culp says parents have to be strategic.

“Ultimately we just want to get them moving and going in order to distract from some of the overwhelming emotions.”

Positive reinforcement can help.

“That’s a necessary ingredient no matter what. So being proactive with your kids and staying involved in their lives and doing things with them and suggesting other things like you said a game night. So doing other things around social media or outside of social media is always good, but that’s a necessary ingredient for parent child relations anyways.”

If you know anyone struggling with their mental health and they need someone to talk to, we urge you to call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-talk.

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