You may have heard of the tragic story of an 11 year old boy completing suicide after bad Facebook hoax was played upon him. My heart and condolences go to both of these families. As adults, we need to teach kids to tell us when they see someone posting about suicide, self-harm or eating disorders on any social media or texting platform.
From the story: “Tysen responded, saying he was going to kill himself, too. But those involved in the prank never texted him back that it was only a joke, nor did they alert any adult about Tysen’s plan.”
If one of these kids would have told an adult then this might not have happened. From talking with kids about these issues, I believe that they have a few reasons that they don’t tell adults:
They don’t take the situation seriously “they are just joking” or “they are just looking for attention” or “they always say that.”
They feel that their parents will somehow blame them and that they will get in trouble. *If they get in trouble, their parents will take their device.
They don’t think their parents will do anything or know what to do (this is a smaller portion of kids, but still a factor for a young person considering telling).
They don’t want to get the kid doing the posting “in trouble”. They may feel that somehow by telling of a concern of the friend they will somehow get that friend in trouble. They are kids and still trying to figure out how things work.
Please realize kids talk about serious mental health concerns on social media all the time. Realize it is not the app that is the problem, the behaviors are. The apps will change, but the behaviors will still go on. You have influence over what you teach your children and how they behave. You have no influence over apps.
Create a Facebook profile, an Instagram profile and a Snapchat profile, then have your kids teach you how to use them. As you learn, you can teach them how to be responsible on these apps.
If you or someone you know is showing warning signs of suicide, consider contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK.