Social Media and Suicide

Suicide is the second largest cause of death among adolescents, accounting for 21.5 percent of all fatalities, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Suicide occurs at a rate of 10.7 per 100,000 people aged 10 to 24. In the United States, suicide will be the number-one killer in 2020, accounting for 45,979 deaths. Between 2000 and 2018, there was a 30% spike in suicide rates, which then fell in 2019 and 2020. The suicide rate is consistently rising across the globe despite suicide prevention initiatives, counseling, and pharmaceutical therapies.

Suicide has been recognized as a phenomenon that is influenced by societal and environmental elements in addition to being an individual event. There is mounting evidence that behavior connected to suicide has been influenced by online activity. Social media usage has increased dramatically in the 21st century.

Meaning of social media and Suicide

Social media and suicide refer to the idea that social media can affect suicidal behavior. Suicide is one of the top five killers worldwide, and it will be the third killer of people between the ages of 15 and 24 by the year 2020. Bullying, whether it takes place offline or online, physically or not, dramatically raises the likelihood of suicidal behavior in its victims. Since the advent of social media, some victims of cyberbullying have taken their own lives. Teenage suicide rates have gone up between 2010 and 2022 as a result of people using social media more frequently in their daily lives.


The Internet and social media have a significant impact on behavior connected to suicide, according to a large body of research. Increased exposure to visual material is one of these indicators. Additionally, there is a link between cyberbullying and suicide, according to a study by Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin. Suicidal thoughts and attempts rise by 14.5 and 8.7 percent, respectively, when cyberbullying is present.

Cyberbullied children and teenagers have a greater than twofold increased risk of self-harm and suicidal thoughts. Over the previous ten years, the rate of teen suicide has gone up overall. Over 40,000 suicide fatalities occur each year in the United States, and almost one million suicide deaths occur each year worldwide, making this a very serious public health issue.

Social Media's Influence on Suicide

The portrayal of suicide conduct or language in the media has the potential to persuade viewers to act on their suicidal intentions. This can include accounts of actual suicides that have occurred in the news or depictions of suicide in television programs and motion pictures. Several organizations have put forth recommendations for how the media ought to cover suicide. There is proof that different people follow the rules differently. It is debatable, according to certain studies, if the recommendations have succeeded in lowering the suicide rate. A different study discovered that the recommendations had some success.

Cyberbullying and Suicide

Significant attention has been paid to cyberbullying as a potential suicide trigger. Teens who have experienced it have been said to have a serious health worry, and those who have experienced the psychological trauma offenders on social media have a serious health threat. While there isn't a federal law that specifically addresses cyberbullying, there are laws in 48 states that prohibit it, with 44 of them including criminal penalties. The rules against harassment have been strengthened in many places to encompass online abuse.

In significant circumstances, criminal harassment statutes frequently serve as the legal foundation for filing charges, and more serious charges have been pursued when the evidence points to a suicide or other catastrophic outcome. When criminal responsibility was difficult to establish, civil remedies were frequently pursued.

Media Contagion Effect

Suicide contagion can be seen in the broader perspective of behavioral contagion, which has been defined as a circumstance in which the same conduct spreads swiftly and spontaneously among a community. The term "suicide contagion" describes the phenomenon whereby indirect exposure to suicide or suicidal actions persuade others to try to commit suicide. Younger people (under 25) are the group of people most at risk from suicide epidemics.

The number, duration, and prominence of media coverage of suicides have all been found to have an impact on the rate of suicide, with the increase's size being correlated with these factors. Dunlop et al.'s new study looked especially at the potential implications of online and social media use on the spread of suicidal conduct.

In a survey of 719 people between the ages of 14 and 24, 79% said they had been exposed to material on suicide through friends, family, and traditional news sources like newspapers, and 59% said they had found it online. By influencing decisions to commit suicide, this knowledge may present a risk to vulnerable groups. Particularly, conversations in chat rooms or discussion forums can induce users to admire suicide victims, encourage peer pressure to commit suicide, or even arrange suicide pacts. Recently, it has become popular to create social media memorial pages in a deceased person's honor.

Advisory and Support Groups

Social media use for suicide prevention has garnered interest from the Defense Centers of Excellence. There have been various Facebook groups created for suicide prevention, including one with 47,000 members. On various social media platforms, many teens and preteens see peer posts about suicide, but they also see information about suicide prevention resources like hotlines and websites.

In response to suicidal messaging, Reidenberg, the executive director of the American prevention group Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), has taken a highly active role. The biggest social network in the world, Facebook, has recently introduced a direct intervention technique. When a person sends a message on Facebook that contains a word that its algorithms identify as suggesting suicidal thoughts or plans, a banner appears on the user's page in 25 of the 50 US states.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's number, along with advice and links to supporting films that are in keeping with best prevention practices, are offered to the user if their page is flagged. Social media does not alleviate the issue of suicide, which persists today on a global scale.


Social networking sites can connect with a vast number of inaccessible people, allow others to step in once someone expresses suicidal thoughts online, and offer a safe space for people to share their experiences without being judged. The likelihood of spreading as well as problems with appropriately measuring risk and monitoring user behavior are among the obstacles. Social media appears to have a significant potential for preventing suicide, but more research is needed to determine its usefulness and safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What do you mean by Sanctioned Suicide?

Ans. An anonymous online community called Sanctioned Suicide is well-known for allowing unlimited discussion of suicide and suicide methods. In September 2022, Sanctioned Suicide received over 10 million page views, and as of March 2023, the forum had more than 30,000 users. Despite the forum's self-described "pro-choice" stance on suicide, the site has generally been referred to as being in favor of suicide.

Q2. What is Suicide prevention?

Ans. The goal of suicide prevention is to lower the risk of suicide. Suicide is frequently avoidable, and efforts to do so can be made at the individual, interpersonal, social, and societal levels. Suicide is a significant public health issue with potential long-term consequences for people, families, and society.

Q3. What is meaning of Suicide awareness?

Ans. An active campaign to increase knowledge about suicidal behaviors is known as suicide awareness. It aims to lessen social stigmas and ambiguities by raising awareness of statistics and sociological research on suicide and promoting constructive discourse and interaction as a strategy for preventing suicide. Both suicide prevention and suicide awareness focus on spreading knowledge and providing suicide education in an effort to reduce the suicide rate.

Updated on: 10-May-2023


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