The issues that affect today’s teen are different to those in previous generations. Nowadays, the teenager who ends their life, or who attempts to end their life can seem like the average kid that anyone would find in school or in one’s neighbourhood. This teen might not be experiencing any troubles at home but be under pressure at school or through their peer group.
With regards to teen suicide prevention, it’s important for adults in the community and in the teen’s home to recognise that the issues that trigger today’s teen into feelings of despair and death are different than what the issues and the triggers were even ten years ago.
Bullying today has taken on a different form than the bullying that most adults grew up with. Most adults recognized bullying such as name calling, harassing, hitting or intimidation tactics. Sadly, many adults feel that while bullying is uncomfortable, it’s a part of life that their children need to learn how to endure. However, not only does bullying not go away on its own, but it has taken on a more sinister direction, thanks to modern technology.
Social media, instant messaging, and telephone text messages are now the preferred forms of bullying. In the past, if kids wanted to spread a rumor about another kid, they had to verbally do so. Therefore, a rumor or a negative message was restricted to a very small geographic area. If a child or a teen was being bullied, they could simply transfer to another school or move to another town to escape their tormentors.
Now, it only takes one person to send a well-placed message in order to spread a rumor or start an harassment campaign online. Unlike the old days, an online bullying campaign can be viewed and participated in around the world in an instant. There is no way for teens to escape an online bullying campaign. This is the reason why bullying suicide statistics have increased dramatically in the last few years.
Parents, teachers and community leaders can do their part with regards to teen suicide prevention, by recognising that technology is a trigger for bullying suicide and by taking steps to monitor the use of social media and technology.