The social media environment is becoming increasingly harmful to teenagers. All over the world, thousands of young people commit suicide, either because of the barrage of hate speech on the internet or for various other reasons of emotional distress.
At the beginning of August, at age 16, Lucas Santos took his own life after receiving homophibic comments for a video he posted on Tik Tok. Regardless of the motivation, the psychologist and psychotherapist Sabrina Matias warns that we are experiencing a suicide pandemic.
Situations like this are increasingly common not only in Brazil, but throughout the world. In a quick search on the internet, it is possible to find several news reporting the same context: teenagers committing suicide due to the use of the social network.
According to neuroscientist Fabiano de Abreu, “what happens in the brain is this interception, a lack of emotional control that triggers dysfunctions that lead to impulsive attitudes”.
Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that suicide remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide.
In 2019, there were more than 700 thousand people. A bulletin released by the Ministry of Health in 2019 also showed a significant increase in suicide attempts in relation to the total of self-inflicted violence – cases of suicidal ideation, self-mutilations and attempts – among young people aged 15 to 29 years, rising from 18.3 % in 2011, to 39.9% in 2018.
We need to talk about suicide, says expert
The psychologist and psychotherapist explains that, although numbers and suicide cases cannot be disclosed, we should not cover our eyes and ears on the subject, especially when dealing with children or adolescents.
It is at this stage that socio-emotional skills are acquired, that is, the brain is not yet 100% mature to take charge of its own life and have insight into many feelings and emotions.
“Parents need to bring up this issue, get to know their children in depth, talk about values, opinions, set limits. Parents need to self-regulate their children’s lives to better prepare them for the future. Without limits, these teenagers up ahead will not have the ability to set limits and/or accept limits, rules. They will have difficulty receiving a no, they won’t know how to deal with frustration”, explains the psychologist.
The Internet makes children and teenagers unable to deal with frustration. Understand
The psychologist alerts to one more question. Depression is no longer the evil of the century. Teenagers are increasingly losing the ability to get in touch with frustration. And this has been enhanced with the internet.
According to Sabrina, this happens because with the internet, deep bonds are not created, at the first sign of annoyance, the relationship is severed. There is no resolution of the problem, people simply disconnect. “With this, teenagers are losing the ability to resolve their social conflicts,” said the expert.
Also read: Understand the risks of social media for the mental health of children and adolescents
Virtual comments aggravate the problem
Furthermore, the feeling of anonymity brings serious problems. “These teenagers, because they are hidden, feel entitled to say what they want, to express themselves in an even irrational way. On the internet, it downloads and does not mince words”, warned the psychologist.
“Your words become truly violent in relation to the other person, who is also not prepared to receive that, because he is not trained in a real relationship, where you can resolve your issues with the other”, he added.
“Perfect life” shown on networks can cause triggers
Still on how the internet has increasingly affected people, and especially young people. It’s about the feeling that the other person’s life is perfect, and that those people who have the perfect life are loved.
“So for me to be loved I have to have the perfect life, perfect body, eat in the best restaurants, have many likes, engagement. Today, the like shows how much you are truly loved or not. That is, I need to be validated by the other all the time. This validation translates into love for the teenager and when he doesn’t have it, he gets frustrated, anxiety and many other problems arise”, he explains.
Dialogue between parents and children is essential to avoid suicide
The psychologist reinforces once again the importance of dialogue between parents and children on current issues involving social networks: bullying, homophobia and cancellation, for example. It is essential to guide this young person on how to deal if any of these situations happen.
In many cases of suicide in young people, parents cannot explain the reason that would have led their child to commit such an act, because for them, the child did not show clear and characteristic signs that could anticipate a suicide, such as:
– deep sadness;
– exaggerated isolation;
“Many teenagers feel ashamed to expose their feelings and emotions to their parents. Suffer in silence. Therefore, parents need to demonstrate every day that they are there side by side with them, gain confidence, closeness, try to understand what their child is going through. It is a serious issue that we must increasingly discuss in community and in our homes”, concludes Sabrina.