Social Network and Suicide

An increasingly interesting research topic of the recent literature on suicide is about the relationship between use of social network and suicide rates among young people. A recent narrative review published online by Nassir Ghaemi, “Digital Depression: A New Disease of the Millennium?” (Ghaemi, 2020) has reviewed the last data about this subject, finding that in the last decade there has been a rise of suicide rates among teenagers and young adults, correlated with the massive use of smartphones and social networks. Author reports that in this last period depressive symptoms have risen, and suicide has become more frequent especially among teenage girls in the USA. The specific correlation between suicidality and use of social networks has been investigated by studies that tested depressive symptoms in college students and observed a decrease of these symptoms in students that accepted a reduction of social media use. On this track many works identified a correlation between these two phenomena, for example a review published on Current Opinion in Psychiatry in November 2019 titled “Social media, internet use and suicide attempts in adolescents”, found an independent direct association between problematic social media use and suicide attempts in young people. These findings suggest the importance of further studies on this problem, in order to create suicide preventive programs that consider this correlation. Another interesting fact is that the role of social media has shown to be also protective in some cases, because adolescents frequently use this media to communicate suffering and distress as shown by other recent studies (Marchant et al, 2017). 

  • Ghaemi SN (2020) Digital depression: a new disease of the millennium? Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2020 Jan 18. doi: 10.1111/acps.13151.
  • Marchant A, Hawton K, Stewart A, Montgomery P, Singaravelu V, Lloyd K, et al. (2017) A systematic review of the relationship between internet use, self-harm and suicidal behaviour in young people: The good, the bad and the unknown. PLoS ONE 12(8): e0181722. pmid:28813437

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