Social Media Can Help Prevent Suicide Among South Dakota Teens - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Social Media Can Help Prevent Suicide Among South Dakota Teens

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Two South Dakota communities have been shaken by teen suicides this week. 

Suicide is the second highest cause of death among youth in South Dakota.  On Thursday evening, a high school student from Central High School in Aberdeen was found dead and a student from Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls took his own life on Tuesday. 

Suicide prevention agencies are using some new tools to help prevent these cases in South Dakota. 

When people think of social media and teenagers, they generally think of bullying.  However, the Helpline Center says it is using new media outlets to identify at risk teens and save lives. 

"I knew something was wrong, I could see the Facebook statuses," said 18-year-old Abeni Kester.   

Kester's 16-year-old brother Derrick committed suicide Tuesday evening.  She says she was away at her first year of college when she noticed her brother making questionable Facebook posts.  

"I just thought, you know, it's just a phase, they're just song lyrics, they don't actually mean anything...but they definitely did," said Kester.  

Lori Montis with the Suicide and Crisis Support Center in Sioux Falls says if you see a post you're concerned about on Facebook, give the hotline a call at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

"We take calls at the helpline center here from people who have read something on Facebook, there's actually a process that Facebook uses to report concerns," said Montis. 

She encourages everyone to reach out to friends or family members for any social media posts that create concern.   

"Even if they just kind of hint at something and your gut tells you, I'm not quite sure what they're hinting at here, then you can kind of follow up with that person," said Montis.  

The crisis center is also reaching out to teens through text messages.  

"We have recently implemented a crisis texting program in the Sioux Falls area where students can text into us rather than call," said Montis.  

The text message system is available from 3pm-11pm everyday and is especially designed for teens' preferred method of communication.   

Kester says however you reach out, just make sure to get your friends the help they need, before its too late.  

"Grab a teacher, grab a counselor, grab an adult or just grab them and tell them you love them because that's probably all they really need," said Kester.

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