Digital technology contributing to rising suicide rates

Digital technology is contributing to rising suicide rates in the UK.

That’s according to mental health expert Shelley Perry, who is the clinical director of SEED and Breathe, a charity which treats people with mental health issues and eating disorders.

Shelley says suicides are now at a 16 year high in the UK, largely driven by high rates amongst boys and men, with females under 25 also seeing a major rise.

“There isn’t one issue that’s driving increasing suicide rates,” says Shelley. “Every case is different, however a combination of factors certainly contribute, meaning people are less resilient to deal with problems.

“In today’s society we have increased loneliness and isolation, which is partially due to a breakdown in community and family units, structures and support mechanisms.

“This is further increasing in the digital age, especially as children younger than ever before now have access to handheld technology such as iPads, which encourages and enables play and time to be spent alone, rather than with other people. 

“Furthermore, young people have access to pornography, violence and other content and materials at a much younger age. We have become desensitized to all of these things and yet the psychological impact is enormous.”

According to Shelley, this combined with inadequate and under-resourced mental health and social services, which aren’t able to provide sufficient early intervention for people, means issues are going undiagnosed and people who are having problems simply fall through the net.

Shelley wants to see a marked change to help deal with the rising problems. 

She said: “It will be hard to tackle some of the root causes that create depression, but the key is building resilience.

“To do that there’s a number of things that can be done from a health service perspective, from working with employers and GPs on identifying people who need support to understanding what treatment and support is available to them.”

Shelley also believes more investment is needed to provide therapies and treatment for children, young people and adults.

“At the moment mental health treatment is underfunded and under resourced.

“External factors influencing the deliverance of services e.g. staffing, funding, number of hospital beds, means that not everybody can be seen and receive appropriate and sufficient help in a timely way to meet the recommendations in the NICE guidelines.

“Plenty of the population have now put their hand up saying they are not mentally well, yet the NHS is unable to meet this demand, therefore, waiting lists are increasing and during this time often an individual’s mental health state deteriorates. 

“More investment is needed but the third sector (not for profit organisations and charities) can also help, but we need to work and collaborate together.”

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Lynda Hamilton Parker is a Scottish PR expert and independent publisher

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