Teens who may not otherwise be forthcoming about their emotional drama have a platform where they can over-share. With the popularity of Facebook it can be difficult to determine a true cry of desperation amidst the noise of social networking. An article in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/24/us/facebook-posts-can-offer-clues-of-d...) reveals some advisers - such as therapists and school counselors - are using Facebook as a tool and entry point for determining how students are handling self-esteem issues and other areas that can provide a cause for alarm.
"Adolescents tend to be overly dramatic, and Facebook has given them a continual platform on which to complain. It can be difficult to weed out a true cry of desperation," admits Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil. The American Psychiatric Association reveals there frequently are true calls for help - they found that roughly 30 percent of students' postings met the definition of depression. It's estimated that 30-40 percent of students have depressive episodes each week but only ten percent pursue counseling.
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Dr. Bonnie notes that's why it's important for adults and adolescents like to attempt to discern the difference between a cry for help and someone letting off steam. Sometimes adolescents can be overly dramatic but it's better to be safe than sorry. "Learn to pick up cues from Facebook," advises Dr. Bonnie. "It's important for students, parents, teachers, guidance counselors and so forth to be in tune with what's getting posted."
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Students should know that Facebook works with the National Suicide Prevention Hotline so anyone that sees something questionable can alert Facebook. "Many adolescents don't know they're hurting till after they've attempted suicide," says Dr. Bonnie. "Having Facebook as an extra safety net can help save lives."
For parents hoping to help their kids with these issues—and looking to change the perception of bullying in their community at large—the website bullypolice.org is a good resource. Dr. Bonnie is a featured speaker on the site and lives in New York where there are currently no anti-bullying laws on the books.