Dr. Keita Franklin of PsychCentral summarized findings from research on the impact of the Digital Age on suicide prevention:
Negative impact of the Digital Age
- It is common for social media users to experience an increase in life dissatisfaction or poor self-esteem as they compare their everyday lives to the “highlight reels” of the lives of people they follow on social media.
- The proliferation of online bullying, which can be kept secret from parents/supportive others, and can be anonymous, increases suicide risk for those without social support, or who feel isolated.
- Extended time spent on social media has been positively correlated with the number of a person’s suicide risk factors.
Positive impact of the Digital Age
- Empathic portrayals of people struggling with mental health can increase helpful dialogues and awareness of mental health, encouraging individuals to seek help when needed by reducing shame and modeling help-seeking.
- Online users who will not discuss their mental health or suicidal thoughts in person may open up online, allowing them to get support or direct help they need.
- The availability of telemental health (e.g., teletherapy) helps those in rural communities. This lowers the barrier of lack of transportation and helps prevent transmission of COVID-19.