29 Comments
Jan 3Liked by Jon Haidt, Zach Rausch

Great find. To really nail it though, I think you need to quantitatively explain *why* the GBD suicide trends in much of Europe are going downward. While suggestive, it is not enough to say "there is a big discrepancy between the GBD and the CDC in the US; therefore the GBD can't be trusted in other countries".

Start with a handful of countries like France and Germany and dig into the provenance of the GBD estimates. Can you conclusively eliminate the possibility that GBD relied on clean suicide data for those countries? Can you show precisely and quantitatively how they inferred suicide by e.g. concatenating incompatible data sets or inferring it from non-suicide data sources? If you can show that, you have a much stronger story.

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Excellent article on methodology. Just speculating, but I wonder if the GBD data might be used as a controlling variable. In other words, it might be used to show expected mental health based on our current theories vs. actual mental health. A deviation between the two that can be explained by mobile device usage would tend to support your theory.

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I do not doubt nor question the rigour and probity of the research discussed in this post. But I do wonder whether it entirely manages to avoid being affected by (what I would call) The Mental Health Industry's relentless expansion of the concept in recent times. In pop-psychology, plain old-fashioned human UNHAPPINESS has increasingly been redefined as a mental health problem. Reassure me that mental health research does factor this in.

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I’m flummoxed that the scientific research industrial complex refuses to conclude that, perhaps, the internet has had a net negative effect on society and women in particular. I’m a millennial and I suffered from anxiety and depression for my entire youth. At 32, I abandoned social media and changed my relationship with the phone and wouldn’t you know it, my mental health improved and SI ceased.

I suspect the professional managerial class has an interest in trying to obfuscate the role of the internet because 1) they simply don’t want to believe it because it would make them feel like bad parents and 2) there is a clear class interest in this denial that Haidt and co. keep debunking from various angles. This topic is like whack a mole. Each time they show they’re right, another study casts doubt with bad methods. I’m curious if anyone else has been thinking about the reasons behind this denial among the mainstream.

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Good evidence, and very well-written! Youth mental health is one of today's biggest challenges.

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Look at the climate and the fact kids know they will not have the life we had, and may not survive it.

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Zach, you invited readers to suggest an alternative explanation for the link between smartphone adoption and declines in adolescent mental health. What about the possibility that smartphones connected teens with more peers who supported/encouraged/pressed them to share mental health issues? In other words, after the emergence of smartphones, the reporting of mental health issues increased more than their prevalence did. I wouldn't actually propose this, because (a) I don't have evidence, and (b) it's a dangerous idea if it's wrong, but I'm wondering: Is there data that weighs against it?

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Are we definitely 100% confident the CDC data is accurate and consistently recorded over time (the non self reported stuff at least)? There's nothing in that data collection that could explain the increase in the 2010s for girls, other than actual increases in suicide and self harm?

I do tend to agree on the type 2 error stuff. Though I do struggle with the tiny numbers we're talking about; a handful in every 100k dying by suicide.

Keep digging on all this stuff guys. If there is definitely a link between social media and increased suicide and self harm, your diligent effort is what is going to prove it. I salute your work.

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As the bandwidth narrows from in person smells that remind me of Grandma... to SMS RCS abbreviations that scarcely apply... More and more Mind Reading is required

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Well done

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Mar 25·edited Mar 25

Jonathan,

This hypothesis explains A) how the youth mental health crisis is caused by increasing dopamine levels, B) why the symptoms began appearing in 2010, and C) why the phenomenon is international yet situated mainly outside the tropic: https://jannemiettinen.fi/FourthTurning/#htoc-2-7-2

Therefore, social media is not the cause, but it is a great scapegoat because dopamine increases feelings of loneliness, that increases time spent on social media. While social media may provide a moment of relief from the feeling of loneliness, it is only a temporary "fix", as it often leaves the users feeling even worse.

Increasing dopamine levels also cause these effects that have been increasingly visible since ~2010:

- Increasing feelings of social dominance: societal polarizations, which is especially visibly in social media sites, because people often go online when feeling lonely.

- Increasing prevalence of ADHD symptoms & diagnoses. Symptoms include impulsiveness, outrages, problems with concentrating, etc.

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I’d love to use that picture in my upcoming statistics lectures - can I borrow it?

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deletedJan 3
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