EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A doctor at Bradley Hospital in East Providence says she isn’t buying the findings of a new study that suggest social media may be linked to an increase in teen suicide rates.
According to the study, published last month in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, suicide rates for teens rose between 2010 and 2015, after they had declined for nearly 20 years.
The study suggests there may be a link between the increase in teen suicide rate and social media because an increase in the rates occurred during the same time social media use surged.
The study’s authors looked at Centers for Disease Control suicide reports from 2009-15 and results of two surveys given to U.S. high school students to measure attitudes, behaviors, and interests. About half a million teens ages 13 to 18 were involved. They were asked about use of electronic devices, social media, print media, television and time spent with friends. Questions about mood included frequency of feeling hopeless and considering or attempting suicide. The researchers didn’t examine circumstances surrounding individual suicides.
Doctor Karyn Horowitz at Bradley Hospital doesn’t believe the study’s conclusion.
She told Eyewitness News she doesn’t “want parents and kids to believe that there’s actually causality between using electronics and social media and suicide.”
She does warn that if parents notice any changes in their child’s behavior to pay attention to it.
Horowitz says in 90% of the cases where a child takes his or her own life there is an underlying psychiatric disorder that could be treated.
She also suggests parents monitor how much their teens are using social media.