Suicide and mental health are in the news today with the recent tragedies of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. This is a wonderful opportunity to start a conversation within your family, friends, and community to share experiences and widen each of our individual worldview.
So often after a community loses someone to suicide, there is a sense of shock. There were no remembered signs or signals. Sure, maybe a friend was going through a rough patch but no one knew how overwhelmed that friend was at the time.
Social media doesn’t help. Dr. Jean Twenge is one of the authors of a study in Clinical Psychological Science on links to suicide rates and depression and teens and their extended use of smartphones. The celebrity deaths are not teens but many of them faced similar challenges as teens do today.
There is an ever-increasing challenge to be the center of attention. Teens want to hold that status of fame through social media likes. Even for adults, the need to be liked, seen, and valued in magnified through social media use. For the adults on Facebook, and even LinkedIn, more views, comments, and likes are a kind of social currency.
The trouble with social media is that relationships that exist only online cannot form as strong a foundation or as deep a bond as the relationships in the offline world. Online relationships can create a false sense of intimacy where verbal communication and physical contact can provide a more human connection.
Below are two ways you can reach out or check-in with those around you:
- Schedule a call. If you know a friend is struggling or if you are the one who could use some extra support, schedule a call with a close friend. Weekly or bi-weekly calls will give you both something to look forward to and a way to connect if you don’t live in the same city.
- Volunteer for a cause that you are passionate about. If you love animals, consider being a foster parent for a dog or cat. Taking care of a pet, even temporarily, will give you a burst of endorphins.
I caution my clients, and I would caution you, please monitor and meter your time online. Reach out to your network and let a trusted person know that you are struggling. If you find yourself at a loss of who to turn to, start with me. I am here to listen and help guide you to a healthier frame of mind.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA) for Teens and Adults