Suicide is now the #2 killer of American teens, according to the Jason Foundation, and is now at epidemic levels.
Spurred on by social media overuse, lack of in-person interaction, and greater challenges of intergenerational communication than ever before, teens also report greater levels of loneliness and social ostracism than have ever been previously recorded.
Unfortunately, while teens often communicate their concerns and thoughts of suicide to friends via virtual channels, these virtual cries for help almost never reach adults and authority figures who can actually do something about it.
When asked why they don’t often report their friends’ suicidal thoughts before it’s too late, teens often state that they didn’t want them to get in trouble, or to get in trouble themselves.
Indeed, as with the famous recent case of the teenager who actively texted her boyfriend to kill himself during his suicide, if teens know they have bullied someone who is suicidal, they will almost never report it for fear of getting in trouble for their behavior.
Solutions are challenging. Everyone tells parents to communicate better, but often they are frustratingly left asking “how?”
For many parents, the best and most direct solution is technological. Teens’ activities are almost always virtual now – through their cell phone. So that is where the answers lie.
If parents want to know what is going on directly, MMGuardian, a phone management app I used to work with, can detect browser searches or text messages on suicide, and send real time alerts to parents, so they know their teen’s mind is on suicide and can do something about it.