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Study shows link between teen suicide and social media


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  An official with the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network says the group’s experience with teens in crisis matches a new study showing a strong link between depression and suicide.

A research, reported this month in the journal Clinical Psychology Science, says teens who use electronic devices and social media five hours or more a day are 70 percent more likely to have suicidal thoughts, or act on those impulses.

Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network Executive Director Scott Ridgway says you can’t draw hard conclusions from a single study. But he also says the crisis phone line staff and counselors he works with do see a strong anecdotal link between social media and teen suicide.

“Kids can’t get away from social media. Kids can’t get away from always constantly having to deal with pressures with their peers. You leave school and you get home and you can’t put those devices down.”

The journal study indicates that teens who spend more time on “nonscreen activities,” such as sports, homework, exercise or simple social interaction, were far less likely to be depressed.

Scott Ridgway says it’s important for parents to stay engaged with their children, monitor their social media use, and take note of any changes in behavior.

“If the child is withdrawing from activities, or that they see that the child may be ….appetite changes, or sleep patterns. Those are clear warning signs.”

Ridgway says around 40 Tennessee students commit suicide each year. He says 12 have died just since the start of school in August.

If you have questions, you can visit the TSPN online.