Use of social networks in teen suicide prevention, intervention urged

June 24, 2013 at 5:05 PM   |   Comments

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 24 (UPI) -- Mobile technology could help in teen suicide prevention and intervention as adolescents often reach out on social media when depressed, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at Ohio State University say a survey of young adults found text messages were the second-most common way they sought help when they felt depressed; talking to a friend or family member ranked first.

The findings suggest suicide prevention and intervention efforts geared at teens and young adults should employ social networking and other types of mobile technology, they said.

"Obviously this is a place where adolescents are expressing their feelings," lead study author Scottye Cash, a professor of social work, said.

"It leads me to believe that we need to think about using social media as an intervention and as a way to connect with people," she said in a university release Monday.

Cash said the research was sparked in part by media reports of teenagers using social media to express suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

"We wanted to know: Is that accurate, or are these isolated incidents?

"We found that in a short period of time, there were dozens of examples of teens with suicidal thoughts using MySpace to talk to their friends," she said.

"We need to find new ways to connect with them and help them with whatever they're struggling with, or, in other words, meet them where they are in ways that make sense to them," Cash said.

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