• Amy Dargan

Social Media Responsibility – Suicide Among Teenage Girls Hits An All Time High.

I heard something truly shocking the other day but at the same time when I started working through it in my head it became more understandable. I say understandable but by no means do I imply acceptable.

I was listening to a Joe Rogan podcast (#1246 – Pot Debate – Alex Berenson & Dr Michael Hart) and as they started darting off on a tangent Joe Rogan disclosed the statistic that suicide rates among teenage girls were at an all time high.

It sparked off a bit of internal outrage so when I arrived home I decided to see if the statistics were applicable to the UK and my first search engine hit produced a Guardian article from Sep 2018 Suicide rate rises among young people in England and Wales’. According to the Office of National Statistics, there has been a rise in suicide rates among teenagers aged between 15 and 19, from 110 deaths in 2010 up to 177 in 2017. Only one year peaked at more in 2015 where 186 deaths were recorded and of 2017’s statistics 56 suicides belonged to females, which was the highest number since records began.

Now all those statistics read as numbers, read exactly like that – as numbers. The thing is they’re not numbers, they’re people, they’re girls and boys with an entire lifetime in front of them, they’re someone’s brother or sister, daughter or son. I said that I began to understand the numbers more but it was simply because I started to compare the world we live in today, with that of the one I lived in at 19 and even though it’s only ten years ago, it’s changed. I can still clearly remember the pressures I felt back then, perhaps a story for another time but crikey there are even more now and it’s not just magazines, friends and television you harshly compare yourself to, the social media phenomenon has given access to a round-the-clock tool to berate and punish yourself with.

The worst thing about it is that admittedly it doesn’t really stop, you just become wiser to the effects of it as you mature - hopefully. I then started to get quite worked up about the lack of social media responsibility before I then had to check myself and realize that I too contribute to it. You won’t see me posting a picture of when I’m having a shit day or even an average day where I’ve probably just spent the entire day in the house, probably not verbally spoken to a single person as that’s the age we live in and been sat at my laptop all day.

Equally I post predominantly pictures of work and everything looks so easy and idyllic. The reality is that I spend hours and days preparing for work, I watch things back with a hugely self-critical eye, you never really feel good enough amongst vastly more experienced peers and of course you always want more.

Social media really is just a load of bollocks, it’s a fabulous tool of self-promotion but much like magazines did when I was younger which was fill my head with all the things I’m not and don’t have, to impressionable eyes it really can chip away at your happiness and appreciation of your own life. Now I don’t know what the exact answer is because let’s face it, there’s also an element of us all being sticklers for self punishment, we all want to see how other people are living their lives, from your best friend, maybe your ex or ‘frenemy’ to the next big celebrity craze and truth be told we all want to see that someone else has got more than us or is “living their best life”. One of the statistics that did make for better reading was that the suicide numbers in males aged between 15 and 19 have decreased, it was suggested that this could be the result of awareness raised. Perhaps education (if it doesn’t already) now needs to teach children how to read social media because taken in the right way, it can also act as a motivational tool. Perhaps contributors to social media with mass followings and content creators do need to start to take a bit more social media responsibility or perhaps like most phenomenons, social media will eventually fall from popularity. In the meantime I’m going to personally start to post from a more conscious place, perhaps for every perfect picture I’ll run a strap line of the things it took to get that glossy looking snap, namely Sam taking at least five photos for everyone picture used and good old portrait mode.

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