Psychologist points to social media as potential reason behind rising teen girl suicide rate

Posted at 6:27 PM, Aug 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-04 18:27:51-04

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new report showing teenage girls committed suicide more in 2015 than any year since 1975.

While the suicide rate among teen boys is still higher than the rate for teen girls, the rate for teen girls doubled from 2007 to 2015.

Dr. Raphi Wald, a psychologist at Lynn University and Florida Atlantic University, said social media could be one reason for this increase.

“They scroll down and they see more and more people that look so happy and they say to themselves, ‘That is not me. There’s something wrong with me,’” Dr. Wald said.

He said teenagers can get addicted to social media.

“They keep doing it because it feels good,” he said. “There’s definitely this sort of slot machine mentally to it.”
However, the highs from social media can turn into very deep lows.

“Teenage girls, they place so much value in their social relationships that when those go wrong, it can seem like their whole world is collapsing,” Dr. Wald said.

Sharon L’Herrou, president and CEO for 211 Palm Beach Treasure Coast, which has a suicide helpline, said calls from teenagers have increased over the last year.

“Everybody is speculating about why. We are not certain,” L’Herrou said. “There has been a lot more awareness in the news with the ’13 Reasons Why’ TV series, certainly sparked a lot of concern and a little bit of trauma amongst teenagers.”

Anyone who needs help can call 211 from within Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee Counties. Those out of the area can call 561-383-1112 or 1-866-882-2991. People can also talk to a specialist by texting their zip code to 898211, emailing, or using 211’s website to start a chat.

“Our staff are very effective at being able to talk people through those problems,” L’Herrou said.