CHICAGO — An increase in suicide rates among U.S. teens occurred at the same time social media use surged, and a new analysis suggests there may be a link.
Suicide rates for teens rose between 2010 and 2015 after they had declined for nearly two decades, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Why the rates went up isn’t known.
The study doesn’t answer the question, but it suggests that one factor could be rising social media use. Recent teen suicides have been blamed on cyberbullying, and social media posts depicting “perfect” lives may be taking a toll on teens’ mental health, researchers say.
The study’s authors looked at CDC suicide reports from 2009-15 and results of two surveys given to U.S. high school students to measure attitudes, behaviors and interests. About half a million teens ages 13 to 18 were involved. They were asked about use of electronic devices, social media, print media, television and time spent with friends. Questions about mood included frequency of feeling hopeless and considering or attempting suicide.
The researchers didn’t examine circumstances surrounding individual suicides. Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said the study provides weak evidence for a popular theory and that many factors influence teen suicide.
The study was published Tuesday in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.
Data highlighted in the study include:
Teens’ use of electronic devices including smartphones for at least five hours daily more than doubled, from 8 percent in 2009 to 19 percent in 2015. These teens were 70 percent more likely to have suicidal thoughts or actions than those who reported one hour of daily use.
In 2015, 36 percent of all teens reported feeling desperately sad or hopeless, or thinking about, planning or attempting suicide, up from 32 percent in 2009. For girls, the rates were higher — 45 percent in 2015 versus 40 percent in 2009.
In 2009, 58 percent of 12th grade girls used social media every day or nearly every day; by 2015, 87 percent used social media every day or nearly every day. They were 14 percent more likely to be depressed than those who used social media less frequently.
“We need to stop thinking of smartphones as harmless,” said study author Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University who studies generational trends. “There’s a tendency to say, ‘Oh, teens are just communicating with their friends.’”
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Astronauts got a mouth-watering haul with Tuesday’s Earth-to-space delivery: pizza and ice cream.
A commercial supply ship arrived at the International Space Station two days after launching from Virginia. Besides NASA equipment and experiments, the Orbital ATK capsule holds chocolate and vanilla ice cream for the six station astronauts, as well as make-your-own flatbread pizzas.
Astronauts always crave pizza in orbit, but it’s been particularly tough for Italy’s Paolo Nespoli. He’s been up there since July and has another month to go.
Nespoli used the space station’s robot arm to grab the cargo ship, as they zoomed 260 miles above the Indian Ocean.
Besides flatbread, the capsule contains all the makings of a good Earth pizza: sauce, cheese, pepperoni, anchovy paste, tomatoes, pesto, olive oil and more.
Astronauts also get a hankering for cold treats, thus the big frozen shipment of ice cream cups, ice cream sandwiches, ice cream bars and frozen fruit bars.
In all, the capsule contains nearly 4 tons of cargo. It’s named the S.S. Gene Cernan in honor of the last man to walk on the moon, who died in January.
The experiments include mealworms and micro clover, sent up by high school students.
The supply ship will remain at the space station until the beginning of December, when it’s cut loose with a load of trash. It will hover close to the orbiting lab as part of an experiment, then several mini satellites will be released and it will burn up in the atmosphere on re-entry.
SpaceX, NASA’s other prime shipper, will make a delivery next month.
RAY BROOK — State Police said a 59-year-old resident of an Adirondack group home has died after being hit by a vehicle.
Troopers say the accident occurred around 5 a.m. Monday at an intersection on state Route 86 in the Essex County hamlet of Ray Brook, between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid.
Police said a car driven by a 55-year-old man from Verdun, Quebec, struck a man who was standing in the roadway. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the county coroner.
Troopers said the man was later identified as Robert Tomlinson. Police said he lived at a nearby group home operated by Citizen Advocates Inc., a Malone-based provider of services for people with developmental disabilities, mental illnesses and substance use issues
The driver hasn’t been charged.
The accident occurred near the state police Troop B headquarters.
ALBANY — Mayors from Albany, Binghamton and more than four dozen other New York cities and towns are urging members of Congress to reject the Republican tax overhaul.
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, a Democrat, and Binghamton Mayor Richard David, a Republican, were just two of the local leaders gathering on Monday in Albany to express their opposition to the tax proposal.
The mayors singled out a provision in the tax overhaul that would eliminate a popular deduction on state and local taxes.
They argue that doing away with the deduction will drive up the cost of living for homeowners, making it harder for them to stay in their homes and potentially depriving communities of vital tax revenues.
HOPEWELL, Va. — Middle school students in a Virginia home economics class were mistakenly given a worksheet that quizzed them on what an extramarital affair is as well as “boy toy” and “trophy wife.”
WTVR reported Monday that the teacher at the school outside Richmond, Virginia, had downloaded the worksheet from the internet. The superintendent for Hopewell schools said it was never part of the curriculum.
Parents at Carter G. Woodson Middle School were angry. The “Family Quiz” worksheet was assigned Friday in a Family & Consumer Sciences class.
It began with questions such as “What do you call the father of your father?”
But questions also asked: “What do you call it when a married person has a relationship with someone else?” and “What do you call the much younger boyfriend of an older woman?”
On Nov. 15:
1776 — British troops captured Fort Washington in New York during the American Revolution.1885 — Canadian rebel leader Louis Riel was executed for high treason.
1907 — Oklahoma became the 46th state of the union.1917 — Georges Clemenceau again became prime minister of France.1933 — The United States and the Soviet Union established diplomatic relations.
1939 — Mob boss Al Capone, ill with syphilis, was released from prison after serving 7 1/2 years for tax evasion and failure to file tax returns.1945 — The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was founded at the conclusion of a conference in London.
1959 — The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The Sound of Music” opened on Broadway.1960 — Academy Award-winning actor Clark Gable died in Los Angeles at age 59.1966 — Dr. Samuel H. Sheppard was acquitted in Cleveland at his second trial of murdering his pregnant wife, Marilyn, in 1954.1973 — Skylab 4, carrying a crew of three astronauts, was launched from Cape Canaveral on an 84-day mission.1982 — An agreement was announced in the 57th day of a strike by National Football League players.1997 — China’s most prominent pro-democracy campaigner, Wei Jingsheng (way jeeng-shuhng), arrived in the United States after being released following nearly 18 years of imprisonment in his country.
Thought for Today: “No matter how dull, or how mean, or how wise a man is, he feels that happiness is his indisputable right.” — Helen Keller, American author and lecturer (1880-1968).