There seems to be a new kind of Suicide Squad, but you won’t find it in comic books. Today’s teens are taking to live streaming for their suicide efforts, and it’s unclear whether the intent is to get some help, or just use social media to drive the point home.
On January 22, 2017, a series of events that began with a live streamed suicide attempt ended in the death of Nakia Venant, a 14 year old Florida resident.
When one of Nakia’s friends saw the 2 hour long video, she reported it to the police, who first went to her house and then to the wrong address she gave them. By the time they reached Nakia’s temporary foster home, the youth was already dead and could not be revived through multiple attempts.
And this is just one incident.
Live streaming isn’t the problem. The problem is that some of the signs of suicidal thoughts aren’t always evident for what they are and in some cases, suicide is encouraged. Several sites don’t just encourage youths to kill themselves, but also offer detailed advice as to how and why they should do it. “Go kill yourself,” has even become a common phrase among gamers who don’t mean it literally, but also from online bullies who perhaps do mean it literally.
You don’t have to be a parent to take the situation seriously. Many of these kids aren’t even with their parents and are in serious need of guidance, validation, and some form of recognition. In short, our youth struggles with the same pains of being a teen that we’ve all faced, but they don’t always have the family units that were once so common.
Remember that teens are still developing their frontal lobes, the part of the brain that helps with decision making and develops mostly in the teen years. Add a bit of encouragement to take your own life, a lack of social or familial support, and the result is a live streamed call for help.
So, what can we do?
Pay attention, for starters. Watch for changes in behavior, like changes in appetite, sleeping patterns, and time spent alone. Monitor your children’s social media accounts, and take an active interest in their lives.
Offer a greeting, smile, or compliment to a teen. Many people have reported that they had a plan in place to commit suicide, but the greeting of a stranger was enough to make them realize they weren’t as invisible as they thought.
Offer advice and encouragement rather than criticism. Every generation thinks the younger generation has flaws that they never would have had, but in the end, they’re just kids trying to make their way to adulthood in a society where their every move, mistake, and flaw is viewed by the world in real time. Be a real role model for our youth; you may be the only one they have.
If you or someone you love has thoughts of suicide, seek help immediately. If you feel like you have nowhere to turn or you prefer to talk to someone outside your circle, call the National Suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255.