Social Media Use and Mood, Suicidal Ideation and Self-Harm in Adolescents

Grazia Maria Giovanna PASTORINO, Francesca Felicia OPERTO, Roberto BUONAIUTO, Giuseppe DIASPRO, Giangennaro COPPOLA


Objective: The aim of our observational study was to evaluate depressive symptoms in adolescent population, focusing on suicidal ideation and intentionality, and to establish the relationship between depressive symptoms/self-harm and the average time spent in social media.

Methods: Our study was an observational cross-sectional study that involved three Middle Schools and three High Schools in the Campania region of Italy. One thousand three hundred sixty-five students 11-19 years of age were recruited (mean age=15 years; female=51%, male=49%). Percentage of adhesion was 95%. All the subjects were administered three self-report questionnaires, filled out anonymously and in the presence of the teachers after illustrating their validity and purpose.

Results: In 23% females and 18% males, depressive symptoms were above the norm, with a slight increase in the prevalence of depressive symptoms in high school students compared to middle school ones. Suicidal intentionality was expressed in 4% of the total sample, with no differences between males and females. Suicidal ideation was present in 14% of the total sample, with a higher prevalence in females than in males (17% vs 10%). We found a significant positive relationship between the depressive symptoms and the hours spent on Social Media, in both males and females. A significant relationship was also found between hours on Social Media and suicidal ideation/intentionality.

Conclusions: Our study showed a high prevalence of depressive symptoms in adolescents, in keeping with previous studies. Our study also showed a significant association between the use of social networks and the development of depressive symptoms, as well as suicidal ideation and intentionality. Further studies are needed to investigate the nature of this relationship.


adolescents; depression; self-harm; social media;

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