Warning to parents as TikTok teens 'use cryptic phrases and secret codes for depression and suicidal thoughts'
PARENTS of teenagers have been warned that their children could be using secret codes on social media to convey their depression.
Phrases such as "I had pasta tonight" and "I finished my shampoo and conditioner at the same time" might indicate that a user is at risk of suicidal thoughts.
If a user posts a status like this, their followers will then respond with reasons for them to continue living.
The hope is that users can reach out to their networks for help when they are struggling.
As parents don't often know what their children are viewing or posting on social media, charities have warned that it's important that parents talk to their children and allow them space to talk about their feelings.
The phrases are thought to come from a poem by Hannah Dains titled "Don't Kill Yourself Today".
The poem contains verses that urge people to carry on living.
Some of the verses include: "Don't kill yourself today because your Netflix trial still has a week left", and "Don't kill yourself until Dr Who is finally cancelled".
The poem continues: "It's a bad day, not a bad life, there is more to this".
In the UK suicide among the under 25s in on the rise, according to the Officefor National Statistics (ONS).
Data from the ONS showed that despite a low number of deaths overall, rates among the under 25s have increased in recent years.
The data revealed that there was a sharp increase in females ages 10-24-years-old.
It is now at its highest level with 3.3 deaths per 100,00 females.
Suicide is also the biggest killer of under 35s and this is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign, to remind anyone facing a tough time, grappling with mental illness or feeling like there's nowhere left to turn, that there is hope.
Any content that seeks to promote self-harm or suicide is in violation of our Community Guidelines and will be removed
The TikTok trend has now come to light after one young woman posted a clip of herself with the caption: "Told my mom about my favourite pasta recipe and she made it for dinner tonight".
Many users then responded with reasons why she shouldn't take her own life.
The user has now posted an update as to why people use such phrases.
With tears in her eyes, she addressed her followers and said: "I never thought it would go this far.
"I have depression and anxiety and I use humour to cope with it. I've posted TikToks about my depression and anxiety before.
"It wasn't a joke, I wasn't joking, I'm aware of the severity of the situation and I knew that if my friends saw it they would understand.
"I know i'm not the only person that needs to hear it".
Charity Young Minds today told The Sun that parents need to help children open up and need to allow them a safe space to do so.
It is really important that parents have an open conversation with their child to try and understand how they are feeling
Deirdre Kehoe, director of training and services at YoungMinds said: “The reasons why young people feel suicidal are often complex, but we know that traumatic experiences at a young age – like bereavement, bullying or abuse – can have a huge impact on mental health.
"School pressure, concerns about how you look and difficult relationships with family or friends can also have a significant effect.
“While it’s important to know that having thoughts about suicide doesn’t mean they are going to attempt suicide, it does mean they need help and support."
Deidre said it's important to talk to young people about how they feel if you are worried about them.
“It can feel daunting to talk to your child about these sorts of feelings and you might be worried that you’ll say the wrong thing.
YOU'RE NOT ALONE
EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.
It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Yet it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You're Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
- CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
- Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
- Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
- Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
- Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
"But it’s better to open up space for them to share what’s going on, than avoid the subject.
"When talking to your child, take time to listen to what they have to say without judgement and let them know that you are there for them."
Meanwhile a spokesperson for Childline said: "We know that social isolation has had a significant impact on young people’s mental health, with suicidal thoughts and feelings being one of the top reasons for getting in touch with Childline since the lockdown.
“It is obviously extremely worrying for any parent who has concerns that their child might be suicidal. It is really important that parents have an open conversation with their child to try and understand how they are feeling."
They added that when a young person is suicidal they are likely to be feeling like they are alone and there is no escape, so it is important to remind them that things can get better.
"Parents can also encourage their child to talk to a Childline counsellor or a doctor if they are concerned for their safety.”
TikTok has previously launched campaigns such as the "What Matters Most Challenge", which aims to support young people who are struggling during the coronavirus lockdown.
It also has various tools that parents can access in order to make sure their children are safely using the platform.
The platform's website states: "The Safety Center also houses resources for parents that help explain how they can take steps to control their teens' experiences on the app."
The platform also has community guidelines in which it condemns the promotion or glorification of self harm.
It does however allow people to talk about their experiences with depression.
TikTok has both human moderators and technology enabled to take down posts that may by deemed inappropriate.
A spokesperson for TikTok told The Sun that protecting the wellbeing of the community is extremely important and that they take this responsibility "very seriously".
"We appreciate that for some TikTok provides an opportunity to share their experiences with mental health problems and to raise awareness. However, any content that seeks to promote self-harm or suicide is in violation of our Community Guidelines and will be removed.
"In addition, if someone tries to search for self-harm or suicide-related content, we do not show results in search. Instead, we provide advice and encourage the user to seek professional support.
"Our specialist content review teams also receive thorough training which includes emergency escalation processes so we can alert and cooperate with local law enforcement if someone is at risk."
If you need someone to talk to call Samaritans on 116 123.
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