Social Media + Mental Health Illness = Awareness

I’m from a time that I truly consider, “The Golden Age”, and I know that subject alone is a whole-nother discussion in itself. But to shine some insight on today’s blog, I have to tell you how cool growing up in the 80’s, 90’s, and the beginning of the “Y2K Era”, really was.

Those who grew up in those times got to witness greatness like, Bon Jovi,  Michael Jackson, George Michael to Will Smith, 2Pac, and Biggie Smalls…game consoles like Sega Genesis, Nintendo to the all-time great Playstation…Magic Johnson and the Lakers to Michael Jordan and the Bulls winning 6 championship rings! Just to name a few things so dang wonderful about that era. Just realized how many times I mentioned, Michael, a great name I guess.  

Saying all of that takes me back. I remember very clearly how I let my first crush in elementary know how much I liked her, but it wasn’t through a meme, picture, or even a text. I actually had to write it out on a piece of paper, decorated it with flowers and I think I even sprayed a little cologne on it, word around town was that always worked.

Once I was done, I won’t say I was an origami expert, but I could have fooled you by the way I folded it up into a star-shaped masterpiece. The emotions and connection I had with that first love letter, will never be forgotten, although I forgot the outcome…I’m sure I was happy in the end.

That was an example of how life was so much different than it is now. You really had to interact with someone to communicate. Pick up a phone to ask somebody for a ride…no uber or lyft, wait for any TV show or game to come on to watch it only at the time it said it would be on…no on-demand or write a real apology letter to your principal…I wasn’t always in trouble though.

If I wanted to let everyone know how you were feeling at any point in time, you had to actually tell them to their face. No social media or fancy gadgets that I sometimes refer to us as being cyborgs in a sense, because all of our phones nowadays are just an extension of our hands, with the capabilities of knowing and searching for unlimited things for educating, entertaining, or useless information available on the internet.

I believe this has been a gift and a curse to mankind. Having the ability to pretty much do anything you want in an instant, has programmed our mental and emotional states to become dependent on technology and all of its glamour. Social media being at the front of the line as a huge conversation piece due to the impact that it is having on our kids and the younger generations who have no idea or concept of the old ways of life.

Social media presents the ability for those to broadcast their lives to the whole world in real time, with feedback and responses in seconds. Although this allows the world to be interconnected, it has also caused a worldwide mental health problem. So much that now suicide is taking the front seat in many cases around the world.

We have seen extremely sad stories like here in the United States, where a 10-year-old Ashawty Davis, killed herself after a video of her fight at school went viral. Not even a week later, Rosalie Avila, just 13 years old, hung herself after receiving abusive messages online.

This is not just happening here in the United States. In Japan, where suicide rates are among the highest in the world at an astonishing 19.7 per 100,000 people, according to a 2015 study done by the World Health Organization, has also experienced many deaths linked to social media. Just last October, nine young adults aged 15-26, were found dead after being targeted over social media. The suspect Takahiro Shiraishi allegedly found his victims using Twitter and them using the hashtag #suiciderecruitment. Since then Twitter has altered its rules regarding violence and self-harm.

Just last December, a popular YouTube blogger named Logan Paul, posted a video of him making fun of a man who hung himself and found in Japan’s infamous “suicide forest”, located in the Akutagawa forest. This, of course, brought negative backlash highlighting how social media can be used to mock mental illness.

Although Japan’s suicide rates are high, the world’s highest rates in the year of 2015, were found in Europe, mainly in Russia, Poland, and Lithuania. I know there are other factors to consider, its still a surprising reality. Governments worldwide are now putting in place different policies to address social media’s link to mental health.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC), conducted a study that showed suicide rates among children aged 15-19 reached an all-time high in 2015. This same rate mimics the arrival of social media sharing platforms, which the youth have totally embraced and live by on a daily basis. So you have to ask yourself, will changing the rules on social media platforms really make a difference…or is it really just band-aid on a wound that has been infected for years?

Just as the American Journal of Epistemology, states in a study, they found the link between mental health and social media lies in the lack of “in-person” interactions. The millennial generation has been raised in a time where most communication is done online rather than in-person. Using all types of media such as text messaging, pictures, videos, memes, or likes and commenting on each other’s posts on their social media platforms. The study could not prove that a direct relationship between depression and social media, it did conclude that it does, “increase the risk of mental health problems and might compromise well-being more generally.”

One of the world’s most popular social media platforms, Instagram, was named one of the worst when looking at one’s mental health. The Royal Society for Public Health, researched and found that image-based platforms are worse for mental health than other social media platforms. Images, of course, register faster in our brains, but on the contrary, in the study of YouTube, it was looked at as the most positive social media platform..maybe due to the fact that it explains something rather than just a still image.   

As with anything else, I believe we need to control how much and when to use social media. It definitely has its pros and cons. Just like this blog post, it can be beneficial in spreading awareness, but as we just discussed, it can also bring negative messages that can support suicide or damage to one’s mental health, and we need to address and continue to implement the help that is available for those dealing with mental illnesses.

Here in the United States, you can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at, 1-800-273-8255, or go to their website, where they have an online chat feature and other great resources for you to utilize and seek help for yourself or someone in need. Don’t hesitate if you feel your child or someone you love is at risk for suicide. Remember, we are all we got…and it’s always better to safe than sorry.

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