ideas, innovations and apps for social work in the age of smartphones and social media
Helen Collis, Mail Online, recently shared a post discussing the question if social networking could provent teenage suicide. She refers to a study by Scottye Cash, College of Social Work at Ohio State University, and colleagues that was published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. Here is the abstract of the article called Adolescent Suicide Statements on MySpace
The use of social networking sites (SNSs) has proliferated throughout the last several years for all populations, but especially adolescents. Media reports have also identified several instances in which adolescents broadcast their suicidal behaviors via the Internet and/or SNSs. Despite the increase in the usage of SNSs, there has been little research conducted on how adolescents use SNSs to communicate these behaviors. The objective of this study was to explore the ways in which adolescents use MySpace to comment on their suicidal thoughts and intentions. Content analysis was used to identify suicidal statements from public profiles on MySpace. The original sample consisted of 1,038 comments, made by young people ages 13–24 years old. The final sample resulted in 64 comments, where Potential Suicidality was identified. Through content analysis, the following subthemes (within the Potential Suicidality theme) were found: Relationships, Mental Health, Substance Use/Abuse, Method of Suicide, and Statements without Context. Examples and discussion for each subtheme are identified. The comments referenced a significant amount of hopelessness, despair, and desperation. This study provides support that adolescents use public Web sites to display comments about their suicidal thoughts, behaviors, and possible intentions. Future research is warranted to explore the relationship between at-risk behaviors and suicidality as expressed on SNSs.
Referring to Helen Collis‘ article the main findings of the study are:
- Distressed adolescents are using social media and mobile technology to express their suicidal feelings and reach out for help, a study has shown.
- The results bring into question current methods of support offered to adolescents who are struggling to cope with life.
- During a one-month period, researchers in America identified 64 comments on MySpace which related to feelings of wanting to die.
- An additional follow-up survey found that young people are also likely use text messaging to share that they are feeling this way.
- Most resources are currently directed into manning suicide hotlines and online suicide support networks.
- However teenagers said they were least likely to use either of these routes as a means of seeking help.
- The research also flies in the face of a number of previous cases of teen suicides which have pointed the finger at social media sites.
- Cases have been linked to harassment through anonymous online bullying. The internet has also been criticised for offering a global forum for teenagers to discuss how to end their lives, even forming suicide pacts.