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Social media, internet use and suicide attempts in adolescents

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-541
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychiatry
Issue number6
Accepted/In press1 Jul 2019
PublishedNov 2019


King's Authors


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Suicide is the second leading cause of death in youth aged 10-24 years old globally, but detecting those at risk is challenging. Novel preventive strategies with wide influence across populations are required. Interest in the potential for both detrimental and supportive influences of social media/internet use on suicidal behaviour has been growing; however, the relationship remains unclear.

RECENT FINDINGS: A systematic search of articles from database inception up to 25 January 2019 across five databases: Medline, PsycINFO, EMBASE, HMIC and CINAHL revealed nine independent studies investigating social media/internet use and suicide attempts in young people less than 19 years old (n = 346 416). An independent direct association was found between heavy social media/internet use and increased suicide attempts in seven studies (adjusted ORs ranged from 1.03 to 5.10), although adjusting for cyberbullying victimization and sleep disturbance reduced the strength of this association. Two studies found that some social media/internet use, versus no use, may be associated with fewer suicide attempts. There were no studies investigating the relationship between social media/internet use and completed suicide.

SUMMARY: There is an independent association between problematic use of social media/internet and suicide attempts in young people. However, the direction of causality, if any, remains unclear. Further evaluation through longitudinal studies is needed.

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