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Jane Pearson on Childhood Suicide and Keeping Kids Safe Online

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The internet and social media are powerful tools that influence virtually everyone. Unfortunately, too many children have made tragic decisions based on what they see on the web. But in this special podcast series devoted to Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, Dr. Jane Pearson of the National Institute of Mental Health talks about how the internet is increasingly becoming a means of preventing childhood suicide. Dr. Pearson is with the Division of Services and Intervention Research at NIMH and a leading expert on suicide research.

Transcript

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Time: 00:03:15 | Size: 3.03 MB
Speaker: Jane Pearson, Ph.D. (NIMH)

Description: The internet and social media are powerful tools that influence virtually everyone. Unfortunately, too many children have made tragic decisions based on what they see on the web. But in this special podcast series devoted to Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, Dr. Jane Pearson of the National Institute of Mental Health talks about how the internet is increasingly becoming a means of preventing childhood suicide. Dr. Pearson is with the Division of Services and Intervention Research at NIMH and a leading expert on suicide research.

This is NIMH radio… from Bethesda.

Dr. Pearson: And I think in these situations it's alerting kids, if you need help this is where you can go... and we're going to walk that through with you and show you where you have a place to go.

Announcer: Dr. Jane Pearson is with the Division of Services and Intervention Research at the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Pearson is talking about available tools that can connect at risk children with suicide prevention action steps. And perhaps the most powerful of these tools are already a big part of most kids lives– the internet and social media.

Dr. Pearson: We're trying to anticipate that now and try to help actually people– administrators at Facebook and Twitter think about how to offer help- if its needed.

Announcer: And one of the best know web giants has already stepped up automatically directing troubling search engine inquiries to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline...

Dr. Pearson: Google just put up a new way of reaching out for help, for example, if you did a search.

Dr. Pearson: And this is where I think we're trying to build up the helpful parts of the web... part of the recent Ad Council campaign for reaching out to kids... links with Inspire USA... which has a lot of information on kids who have problems but solve them. So, it shows them that... yea, you know what, that kid had the same kind of issue that I had but it looked like they figured out a way to get through it.

Announcer: Dr. Pearson makes reference to the website InspireUSAfoundation.org. It's critical for parents and adult caregivers to know what children are viewing on the internet. As an example, well intended social media memorials can have unintended consequences...

Dr. Pearson: A challenge is for parents who lost somebody to suicide are the memorials on Facebook and looking for people who might visit there in terms of, you know, "Gee, I'll join you soon." That would be a very troublesome sign to see if somebody came to visit... on Facebook of somebody's memorial. So it's trying to track some of that and be aware of that.

Announcer: Ultimately, the goal is to harness the power of all communications tools– whether it's social media, group discussion or reaching out one-on-one...

Dr. Pearson: So you can build up the reasons for living, more than reasons for dying- you can save somebody's life. This is NIMH radio.