Social Media Saving Lives

Married with children or seeking a long- term relationship, established in a career or considering a career change, enjoying where you live or thinking about a geographic change – young people in their late 20s and 30s often find themselves faced with so many life-changing decisions. No matter where they are, social media, most likely, plays an important role in how they connect with their immediate world as well as the world at large.

Often what is posted is positive – the new job, the marriage, the move. Although social media is most often used to share positive experiences, sometimes people turn to it as a call for help.

That call for help can often preclude thoughts of suicide.

“Suicide is preventable, social media is one channel for monitoring that,” explains Carl Hanson, Ph.D., MCHES, Director of the Master’s in Public Health program and an associate professor in the department of Health Sciences at Brigham Young University. Dr. Hanson contends that people rarely say, “I am going to kill myself.”

Instead, they may post troubling comments such as:

“I’ve never felt so depressed.”
“I don’t think I can handle one more thing in my life.”
“I feel like no one in the world understands me.”
“People always have to fix my mistakes.”
“Everyone would be better off if I weren’t here.”

What do we do if troubling comments from friends show up in our newsfeed? What or how are we supposed to think? To act? To do?

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By Susan Kurlander, M.Ed.
Health educator for Jewish Community Services Prevention Education

The Associated Contributors are writers from The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.