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On-Line Help For Teen Suicidal Behavior

Teen onlineA new research study suggests emotional help for troubled teens may be effectively delivered via cyber space.

According to University of Alberta researchers, the internet is the preferred communication media for youth as they are more comfortable online than discussing topics over the phone or scheduling an appointment with a counselor.

Elaine Greidanus, a grad student in Educational Psychology, did a study to see how helpful cyber support really is.

Greidanus observed an online help site, where teens would create an anonymous thread, and studied about a dozen participants. Trained volunteers, who helped the adolescents, would write messages including: “It sounds like you are experiencing a lot of pain right now,” “What are some things that give you strength in your life”” and “If you read some of the other threads, you may be surprised that several people have similar feelings.”

Greidanus also found that volunteers would frequently suggest specific resources including local telephone distress lines or talking to a counselor.

Not only would the teens get advice from the site volunteers but from other adolescents who were online. Greidanus noticed messages of empathy including “Stop hurting yourself, I care for you!” and “You should go to the doctor.” She found these messages helped the participants develop a relationship and a sense of community with their peers.

Psychologist, university professor and expert in adolescent suicidal behaviour Dr. Robin Everall says “accessing adolescents and providing services in a way that they will actually seek help is a critical issue.”

Understanding how adolescents interact and communicate with each other on the internet can open new channels for connecting with distressed youth. Everall says it’s encouraging to know that well designed and monitored cyber communities are being used.

Greidanus’ research found the teens emphasized the importance of expressing their thoughts and feelings to a community who understood, suggesting the online community created an opportunity to seek and receive social support they would not otherwise have.

She also found several of the participants who initially began asking for support, began writing to support others. She believes this proves the online community to be a meaningful peer-based support system.

Source: University of Alberta

On-Line Help For Teen Suicidal Behavior

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). On-Line Help For Teen Suicidal Behavior. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 24, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/01/11/on-line-help-for-teen-suicidal-behavior/1772.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.