“If I die tonight, would anyone cry?” Amber Cornwell published this post soon before completing suicide in December of 2014.
Social media is the modern-day soliloquy; kids are now more likely to lament emotional distress or seek help via online platforms. Through Machine Learning techniques, we found that Twitter was the overwhelming favorite for kids to vent emotions: 71% of flagged activity* are tweets. However, it is through these same platforms that cyberbullying occurs.
30% of flagged posts* are direct forms of cyberbullying. Interestingly, ⅓ of all students have experienced some type of online harassment. Teens exposed to cyberbullying are 2.4 times more likely to entertain suicidal notions. Certainty of this causal relationship is demonstrated by terms like “cyberbullicide”, as used in an American Public Health Association study.
Social media interactions can provide a look into a teen’s life, yet red flags are largely ignored due to the casual nature of online culture. Mean comments and threats are posted online all the time; this problem has proliferated into a cyberbullying epidemic, one that large social media platforms are struggling to mitigate. Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter, admitted, “We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years.”
Common Sense Media’s “5 Ways to Stop Cyberbullies”. Although this is a great guide for handling cyberbullying, there is a larger issue that still needs to be solved.
Amber was a victim of cyberbullying. So was Thomas Mullaney, and many others who decided to take their own life as a result. To reduce teen suicide and depression, we must eliminate a major root cause: bullying.
This month is National Bullying Prevention Month, a movement to stop bullying and cyberbullying once and for all. To learn more about how to get involved in with your local community’s bullying prevention initiatives, click here.
*Of 500,000 social media posts, 1 in 50 posts were flagged for suspicious behavior related to drugs, profanity, cyberbullying, threats, depression, or suicide.
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