According to the Associated Press, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has authored a peer-reviewed report that explores the link between coinciding increases in use of social media and the teen suicide rate in the U.S.
According to the report, after a two-decade decline, suicide rates for teens rose suddenly and substantially between 2010 and 2015. While the report doesn’t conclusively find a root cause, it suggests one of the major factors is the simultaneous increase in social media use, which in turn has opened the door to cyberbullying and posts that may unrealistically depict the “perfect” lives of other users.
The researchers reportedly looked at CDC suicide reports from 2009 to 2015, as well as the results of two surveys given to about 500,000 high school students, ages 13 to 18, that measured attitudes, behaviors, and interests. They did not, however, examine circumstances surrounding individual suicides.
The key data in the study included:
- Teens' use of electronic devices including smartphones for at least five hours daily more than doubled, from 8 percent in 2009 to 19 percent in 2015. These teens were 70 percent more likely to have suicidal thoughts or actions than those who reported one hour of daily use.
- In 2015, 36 percent of all teens reported feeling desperately sad or hopeless, or thinking about, planning or attempting suicide, up from 32 percent in 2009. For girls, the numbers were higher.
- In 2009, 58 percent of 12th grade girls used social media every day or nearly every day; by 2015, 87 percent used social media every day or nearly every day. They were 14 percent more likely to be depressed than those who used social media less frequently.
Experts that have weighed in on the report, published earlier today in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, say it mostly shows the need for research.