Suicide on the Internet has been a concern since the Internet spawned Usenet newsgroups (think “forums” in today’s vernacular) in the 1980s. It was one of the first things I came across in the early 1990s when I started visiting these online support groups and discussion forums — lots and lots of suicidal people are online.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens and young adults ages 10 through 24 and the second leading cause of death among those ages 25 through 34.1 Over 10,000 people a year in the U.S. alone die by suicide in these two age groups, and a total of over 32,000 people commit suicide each and every year.
Diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease kill more Americans every year — but they tend to be older people. HIV kills far less people but gets far more attention in the press. And while childhood cancer is indeed tragic, suicide in a young person is far more tragic because it is far more treatable and preventable — if only people would open their eyes.
So given young people’s overwhelming use and living their lives online, what do you do when you come across someone who’s suicidal and online? Should you even do anything?Footnotes:
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