Did you know that roughly 80% of the U.S. population has a social network profile? Whether that be Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or any of the number of social platforms that exist, 8 out of every 10 people in the U.S. have a social profile.
Did you also know that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states suicide rates have been rising in nearly every state across the U.S. since 1999? Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among Americans, with rates rising as high as nearly 50% or more in some states (North Dakota, Vermont, and New Hampshire are a few states with the highest rates). Just as assuredly as you know someone who has a social media account, you also probably know someone who has been affected by suicide in some way, shape or form.
This blog is not written to suggest that having a social media profile causes suicide. Besides the fact that correlation does not equal causation, it’s also not the point. We live in a different world, where the Internet and Social Media technologies take center stage. There is no getting away from it, unless you decide to live off grid.
The point of this blog is to talk openly about how social media and suicidal tendencies intersect, in the hopes that we can use this information together to look out for one another in our respective times of need. Because we all have them. The following are a few of the major signs of suicidal tendencies to keep in mind when scrolling through your own social media feeds.
Signs of Suicide on Social Media
- You see someone talking about death or wanting to die often. You see someone joking about suicide or saying suicidal type words (such as “I give up” or “I don’t want to do this anymore”).
- You see someone talking about cutting themselves or wanting to hurt themselves in some way.
- You see someone who is posting quite frequently and most posts are related to death, feeling sad, of depressing subjects.
- You know someone who just experienced a traumatic event (death of loved one, lost job, divorce).
- You see someone who is acting out of the ordinary online and/or using drugs or alcohol more than usual.
- You see someone attempting to sell or give all their belongings away without any obvious reasons.
- You see someone often joking about how much they hate themselves or using a lot of negative self-talk.
- You see someone displaying extreme mood swings on social media.
Suicide does not discriminate. It does not pine after the weak of heart or mind. It does not skip the rich and famous. We all know this. I have personally experienced the suicide and attempted suicide of no less than three people who are very close to my heart. Suicide is a subject that hits so close to home. But as a social media and content marketing entrepreneur, so does social media. I see how it can be both a barrier and a vestibule to connect with others. It all depends on how we use it.
Remember that it is not your responsibility to save another human being. Sometimes, no matter how much we as friends and family try to help, the inevitable happens. But that does not mean that we should not try to show our love when we see an opportunity.
Instead of posting those angry thoughts that we all have every day, reach out to an old friend and remind them that it’s awesome you are still connected through this weird thing we call Facebook. Reach out to a new friend, who maybe you don’t know so well but is displaying some of the danger signs of suicide mentioned above. In a world where we can feel ever so isolated by technology, allow it to connect you with someone who needs the connection. So together, we can end the stigma and lower the suicide rate with communication and love one person at a time.
What are some additional signs you have noticed from your social media newsfeeds? Any stories related to social media and suicide that you would like to share? Please leave a comment below and #LetsTalkAboutMentalHealth.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or tendencies please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.