By Katie Albert, Clarion Staff
At least 95% of youth (ages 12-17) have at least one social media account whether it is Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any of the many other social sites on the internet. Teenagers on social media are exposed to everything from the people they follow and are unknowingly influenced by the things they see on their timelines. Many teenagers use anonymous accounts to share things that they might be uncomfortable talking about with their real identities. The internet provides anonymity for these teens. A widely discussed topic on social media is mental illness, an enormous issue among today’s youth with 2.8 million young people having at least one major depressive episode in 2014.
On Instagram alone, there are 19 million posts with hashtags relating to depression. While in some cases, these posts are about spreading awareness about mental illness and ways to seek help, but often romanticize depression and other mental illnesses. As social media portrays depression less harmful than it truly is, some young adults convince themselves that they are depressed because of how social media has portrayed depression. Many of the self-diagnosed individuals believe they are depressed and blur the line between common negative emotions and clinical depression.
Posts with gifs of teenagers self-harming and quotes such as “Suicidal people are just angels that want to go home,” and “I want to die a lovely death,” are just examples of attempts to normalize depressive behaviors, and are available for anyone to view. All teenagers need to do is to search for hashtags tagged “self-harm”, “depression”, or “suicide” to find thousands of these posts and pages with toxic views of depression and use them to justify their harmful habits rather than seeking help.
If you are depressed, seek help from and confide in a parent or another trusted adult. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, self-harm, depression, any form of abuse, anxiety, bullying, eating disorders, or anything that you consider to be a crisis, text “GO” to 741741 to reach a free 24/7 confidential crisis text line. If you or a loved one are considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.