Using Technology to Save Teens from Suicide
Cyberbullying is a growing problem among today’s teens.
With the evolution of social media and how teens are using the internet, cyberbullying has become a growing problem. Websites like Facebook and Twitter have been blamed for young people taking their lives after the sites were used as tools for constant and relentless attacks from peers.
Now, advocates are hoping to use the power of social media to harvest it as a tool to prevent teen suicides. The idea behind new initiatives is to provide online resources such as discussion forums and chat rooms for those who need an outlet and don’t know where else to turn. By giving bullied teens a safe space to go for help, advocates hope to be able to intervene and save lives.
Other ideas include trying to educate social media users on how to identify and react to messages that may have an underlying message or indication that an individual is preparing to harm themselves. Facebook has implemented a feature that allows users to report a post if they believe a Facebook “friend” is considering harming themselves (click on the drop-down arrow next to any post and users should see the option). For more serious posts, Facebook may reach out to the individual with resources.
Programs are trying to reach teens when they need help.
David Bond, vice president of programs for The Trevor Project, touts the programs online community, Trevor Space, as an online community for LGBTQ youth that is a safe space that teens may not otherwise have. Studies have indicated that LGBTQ youth face higher rates of bullying than their peers.
“People can go online and be free of the bullying they face on Facebook. You can post about your experiences and others will connect with you,” Mr. Bond said. “Imagine if you are living in a rural community and don’t have access to a center. Here’s an online space where you can build a community.”