The alarming trend of teens (and even adults) streaming their suicides on Facebook Live and social media is a growing, disturbing phenomenon. Statistics already indicate that teen suicide is the third leading cause of deaths for 15 to 24 year old’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Where once, severely troubled teens took their lives in seclusion, now social media has introduced an avenue for sharing their tragic life ending acts to virtually hundreds if not millions of people. What is perpetuating this?
According to the American Psychological Association, teen suicide is preventable. This position begs the question as to why suffering teens continue to see suicide as the last resort in reacting to their life’s problems. And further, why use social media to broadcast it?
The role of social media in nearly every teens life today is crowding out the direct, deep, and personal relationships with parents and family members. Socializing in a virtual manner is creating a void with in-person relationships and teens are blazing the trails in this new world of relationships.
William Dorfman, a psychology professor at Nova Southeastern University says, “Everything now is published online and shared through friends. [The suicide] is a tragic thing but from a psychological point of view, I would see this as in some way a desperate communication for the pain this kid obviously had been experiencing.”
Tips from CarefulParents.com
Parents must lead their families in the role of meaningful and in-person communications with each of their children on a daily basis. Communication through devices should not be the only or primary way communication is carried out:
Do you talk face to face with your children on a daily basis?
All to often convenience and competing priorities determine the type, amount, and quality of our conversations with our kids. Using device technology to communicate should never replace the personal and intimate moments you share with your kids in a one on one conversation. Person to person reveals so much more in terms of feelings and emotions because of the critical component of non-verbal queues that portray the real story behind the words.
Does your conversations include topics that are important to your child?
It can be challenging to take the time and talk about life with our kids. Many times our conversations are focused on responsibilities, instructions, and even disagreements and arguments. Think about your last three conversations with your child or teen. What was your conversations based on? Them doing something they shouldn’t or not doing something they should? Conveying instructions or mandates, “laying down the law”? Status reporting; where you are asking questions and gathering information to incorporate information into your to-do’s and schedule?
Take time to discuss topics with your child(ren) that are important to them. Many times they are struggling with social relationships at school, pressures of homework or grades, conflicts with teachers, and simply decision-making challenges about who they are and what they want to do and be in life. Some great leading questions you can ask to spur on a deeper conversation are:
- Who in your class do you really enjoy spending time with?
- What do you really like about your best friend?
- Which of your teachers seems to be the most good at their job? What things do they do that makes you think that?
- If you could re-organize your room any way you wanted, how would you do it and what furniture would you put in it?
- If you could follow anyone around for a day to see what they do for a living who would it be?
- If you could take a vacation anywhere, where would it be and who would you want to take with you?
- What do you like the most about our family? What is something our family should do a better job at?
Do your conversations shed light on the emotional state of your child(ren)?
In the previous section, I shared some open ended questions that have the potential to reveal some true emotions and thoughts from your child’s point of view. Making time for probing questions that break-through the surface responses will provide some immediate indications as to the emotional health and well-being of your child. Don’t let your child off easy by avoiding responses that require more than a “yes” or “no” and avoid questions that illicit that type of reply. Calmly take time to re-assert the question in a different way. Approach each conversation with one goal, to learn something new about your child.
Linking this back to the title, “Why are kids committing suicide on Facebook Live”. My opinion is two-fold. First, it may be because it is their most utilized form of communication and for them, it is the channel they have learned to use to share their thoughts and feelings thus far in life. It is also a non-intrusive and passive means to demonstrating their need for help. What is tragic in these disheartening examples of a permanent loss of a precious life is that communicating this level of pain and surrender is virtual and reacting to and preventing it is nearly impossible in the midst of carrying it out.
Secondly, it indicates a critical need for parents to implement better communications techniques that eliminate the wondering and assumptions regarding the emotional health and well-being of your child. There are several indicators to suicidal tendencies and it is the parents responsibility to know what these tendencies are and then develop consistent patterns of person to person communications to evaluate your child’s thoughts and feelings that could indicate a possible risk.
Our children are worth or time!