Don’t jump to conclusions

Suicide rates for teenagers increased substantially from 2010-15, at the same time use of social media by young people shot up. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study hints the two phenomena may be linked.

It would be foolish to suggest, based on this one study, that social media is inherently dangerous. Clearly, much more needs to be learned about how the technology affects us in many ways.

Social media in all its forms amounts only to new ways of communicating, after all. That ought to be a good thing.

But even good things can be put to bad, sometimes positively evil, uses. We know of situations in which teenagers who committed suicide blamed their decisions on harassment via social media.

Still, more needs to be known about whether there is a link between use of social media and emotional turmoil so severe it leads a young person to take his or her life. If there is a solid link, more needs to be known about specific, effective methods of counteracting any pernicious influence.

What this new study should do is remind parents and guardians of children of the necessity to keep in touch with them, to encourage them to talk about their problems — all of them.

Teenagers were committing suicide long before social media or any other electronic mode of communication existed.

Ironically, the problem always has been failure to connect with other people. The solution is the most effective, if sometimes difficult, method of communication ever invented. It is talking, face to face, between those in emotional turmoil and others who care for them.

By Patricia Older

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