If You Have a Depressed Child or Teen, Monitor or Block Their Internet Chat and Forum Access

Depression is as common in children and teenagers as it is in adults. Children and teens often have a need to talk over their problems with others their age that are going through the same thing. This can be a good thing and is the basis of peer counseling which can be very effective in this age group.

Unfortunately, there is no way to control who may visit chatrooms and forums that are intended for children or teens with mental illness such as depression to interact. Sadly, a disturbing trend has emerged. There are individuals who will go to these sites and basically prey on the depression of these teens. I don’t know if you read about it in the paper, but there was a teenage girl who was “befriended” by someone on one of these sites who basically convinced her not to tell her parents or seek help for her condition. This person encouraged her to commit suicide and even instructed her on how to obtain and use the poison with which she ended her life a couple of weeks ago.

One can only surmise that this was done out of some perverse desire to be the causative agent of another’s death. This has not been the first event of this kind. So, if you have a teenager or older child who is depressed make them aware of this danger. Encourage them to feel comfortable talking with you or their physician. Let them know that anything goes in those conversations and that you are there to help, not judge them. Make sure you have parental control software that can let you control, or at least monitor, their computer use.

Hopefully, if parents are diligent, these tragedies can be prevented in the future.
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