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Obsessive social media use fuelling rise in teen girl suicides

Wednesday 15th November 2017
Suicides are on the rise among teenage girls, as social media addiction also increases. Image: rilueda via iStock
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Teenage girls who use social media constantly and appear almost addicted to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram could be at greater risk of committing suicide, new research suggests.

According to a study carried out by doctors at San Diego State University, suicide rates among girls aged between 13 and 18 have increased significantly in recent years, which they believe could be attributed to the rise of smartphones and social media.

The researchers analysed suicide data from 2009 to 2015 and conducted questionnaires with teenage girls, asking them about their use of social media, digital devices and how much time they spent socialising with others in person.

Results showed that there was an increase of almost one-third (32 per cent) in the number of young girls contemplating taking their own lives in 2015 compared to 2009, which the study authors believe may be due to them having more opportunities to compare themselves to others in terms of image and popularity via social media. This can cause some people to feel inadequate, potentially triggering mental illnesses including anxiety and depression.

The research also found that 87 per cent of teenage girls currently access social media platforms every day, with these individuals 14 per cent more likely to be suffering from depression than their peers who used social media less often.

Jean Twenge, lead author of the study, commented: "These increases in mental health issues among teens are very alarming. When I first saw these sudden increases in mental health issues, I wasn't sure what was causing them.

"There's a tendency to say 'Oh, teens are just communicating with their friends'. Monitoring kids' use of smartphones and social media is important and so is setting reasonable limits."

Although the study was carried out in the US, its findings reflect those from similar investigations in Britain. Statistics from the charity the Samaritans show that there was a two per cent rise in the suicide rate for females in England in 2015, with this increasing to 3.8 per cent for the whole of the UK.

Written by Angela Newbury

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