There's a disturbing trend nationwide for our teenagers. In Ontario County, the latest numbers show 137 people died by suicide over the past decade and the numbers are going up. Many blame social media as the reason. Our news partner, News10NBC explores ways to reach today's teenagers.
There’s a deadly trend nationwide - more teens are committing suicide. Experts are blaming social media. Our news partner, News10NBC's affiliate WNYT reports health officials are noticing swelling suicide rates among teens in the capital region, and here in the Finger Lakes region, data shows similar trends.
You might remember four Penfield High School students committed suicide over the course of 18 months, the most recent happened back in May. The latest Monroe County Youth Behavior Risk Assessment also shows alarming numbers. Over the last 10 years, more teens have reported feeling sad and hopeless. Data from the report also shows more teens have also seriously considered suicide. Those same teens also report spending more than five hours a day on their phones or tablets.
In Ontario County, the latest numbers show 137 people died by suicide over the past decade.
Twenty six-year-old Emmy Farstad once tried to kill herself when she was a teen. She said social media wasn't as popular then. Had it been, Farstad says her problems would have been much worse.
"Peers were very cruel and they made up rumors that I was pregnant, that I had died, that I had cancer – spreading these rumors,” Farstad said. “Once, I was hospitalized. I told a couple close friends and that spread like wildfire."
Rebecca Carman, Director of Policy and Community Development, Shenendehowa HS has noticed a change in teen behavior as more students use social media.
"Social media is probably one of the biggest pieces right now that we hear comes into play a lot -- Instagram, Snapchat,” Carman said. “This person is here doing this with this friend. I'm left out."
Many teens are driven by likes and comments on their social media. Without engagement on social media some teens feel neglected. Social media also creates a culture of comparing your life to others.
So what can be done to curb this deadly trend?
Experts offered a list of tips:
Look for changes in behavior. Is the child withdrawing from activities they used to enjoy?
Limit exposure to social media
Set a time every night when your children hand over their phones and devices
Check their browsing history, Kids considering suicide today tend to research it first.
Above all else, talk with your children-- even if they resist.
There is also a 24-hour free text crisis hot-line for anyone who needs support. You can reach help at any time by sending a text message to 741-741.