Screen devises: The reason behind the worldwide suicide increase?

Study shows a direct relation between using smartphones, computers, tablets, and TV with suicide tendencies

Screen devises

The number of hours dedicated to consume content on screen devices -either smartphone, computer, tablet or TV-, could be related to an increase on depression symptoms or even suicidal tendencies. Numerous studies have reached this same conclusion. For example, a recent report presented by experts from the University of San Diego and Florida ratifies the statement. The study shows that the excessive use of these technologies would have contributed to the increase in suicide rates in young people in the USA.

The research results were published in the magazine Clinical Phsycological Science; furthermore, they evidence a 12% increase in suicidal thoughts and a 58% increase in depressive symptoms in adolescents, during a frame time from 2010 to 2015. On the other hand, according to comparison figures provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of children and adolescents between 10 and 14 years old who took their own lives between 1999 and 2014, went from 1.9 to 2.6 per 100,000 inhabitants.

The research analyzed and monitored the behavior of more than 500,000 young people. It highlights that between 2010 and 2015 the biggest change has been the high use of screen devices in replace of other activities. According to this, 48% of teenagers, who used technological devices for five or more hours a day, had at some point suicidal thoughts. This cipher was reduced to 28%, when the time in front of the screens did not exceed one hour per day.

800,000 suicides per year in the world

In accordance to the analysis by the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2015 suicides was the second worldwide cause of death among people between 15 and 29 years old. Each year, about 800,000 people commited suicide on earth. Moreover, 78% of these cases occurred in low and middle income countries.

In Latin America, nations such as Uruguay, Chile and Cuba have the highest suicide rates. For instance, in Uruguay, one of the most prosperous countries in South America, suicide has become the leading cause of violent death. In 2014, an average of more than one suicide per day took place in Uruguay. The Pan American Health Organization analyzed this situation in 48 countries of the Americas during 2005-2009. It states that around 65,000 people took their own lives each year on the continent. Although this figure is slightly below than global index, it is a scourge that is increasing mainly in young populations.

This research is aligned with other studies that relate time spent in social networks with problems of self-esteem and unhappiness. Besides this, the spread of 'bullying' through digital platforms has become a new challenge for organizations seeking to control the problem. In agreement to data, years ago mental health problems were the main trigger for suicide in the world. However, nowadays hundreds of thousands of suicides are committed without showing any apparent sign of depression or mental instability.

Even though this study shows a direct cause-effect between the increase in suicides and the number of hours in front of a screen, it can not be assured with certainty that this habit has a concrete influence on the increasing rate of mental problems among adolescents. Nevertheless, many experts agreed on the fact that a person who spends a long period of time connected to their mobile devices or social networks, is already showing a clear sign of mental vulnerability. Therefore, in the short term, it could trigger a greater mental health problem that could be responsible for the increase of thoughts and suicide attempts.

LatinAmerican Post | Krishna Jaramillo

Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza

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