In just the five years between 2010 and 2015, the number of US teens who felt useless and joyless – classic symptoms of depression – surged 33% in large national surveys. Teen suicide attempts increased 23%. Even more troubling, the number of 13 to 18-year-olds who committed suicide jumped 31%.
In a paper published in Clinical Psychological Science, the authors found that the increases in depression, suicide attempts and suicide appeared among teens from every background – more privileged and less privileged, across all races and ethnicities and in every region of the country. The analysis found that the generation of teens born after 1995 – is much more likely to experience mental health issues than their millennial predecessors.
What happened that so many more teens, in such a short period of time, would feel depressed, attempt suicide and commit suicide? After scouring several large surveys of teens for clues, it was found that all of the possibilities traced back to a major change in teens’ lives: the sudden rise of the smartphone.