Digital Studies Final Project- Suicide Prevention
Vague prompts are very inspiring, yet also extremely difficult to do when given the opportunity. I struggled for a while with the prompt “do something on the web about the web”. Filtering through ideas about the pros and cons, what makes the internet, and my general reaction to the project. My initial idea was to do a creative expression on the effects social media has on mental health. I was prepared to explore the internet through the eyes of a cynic; critiquing the echo chambers, capitalism, and addiction that social media is known to cause. This lead to trial and error on a website that showed how often a word or phrase was googled. Initially, I was going to showcase a graph of mental health buzzwords used over time, such as “mental health, suicide, social media”, however, the results were not what I was envisioning. There seemed to be little to no correlation. This lead to looking deeper into the past two years with the rise of isolation with covid 19, and the mental suffering that many high school and college-age kids experienced during this time. This inspired me to look for resources that are available to someone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts, and what was available on the internet for someone who feels isolated or lacks trust with their inner circle sharing these thoughts. Finally, this leads me to “Lifeline” (Suicide Prevention Hotline) and their website. I noticed that the main cite broke sections up into several different generalized groups such as age, gender, and other common reasons people would need this help. What caught my attention was the sub-category of “A current event: emotional well-being during the Covid-19 outbreak”.
I decided my project was going to be based on the benefits the internet brings to the mental health world: suicide prevention during a global pandemic. I created two images with “wordscape”, combining two sections of the website. This allows me to see the most common words used in this website, to see how the internet has affected the language around mental health. The icon I chose was the semi-colon, as it represents suicide survivors. In the period portion of the semi-colon I used the words on the home page when you first click on the website, and the comma portion of the icon I used the covid-19 subsection of the platform. Both cites had helpful links and encouraged people to reach out for help. The semi-colon is a well know symbol that is representative of suicide survivors because it shows how after they tried to end their life, it still continued. The colors I chose were teal, purple, grey, and yellow. Teal and purple are the colors used during September which is “Suicide Awareness Month”, and grey I chose to represent a negative mental state, and yellow I chose for a hopeful future.
While there are some serious downsides to the internet that can affect mental health negatively, it has been a constant connection to those who are physically far away from us. This has been an essential part of our lives as a community especially amongst school-age students, who are more prone to mental health issues, to stay connected. The internet provides easy access to health care and emergency support to those who need it. I am excited to share my final project and hope that it encourages anyone who is struggling that they are not alone; help is out there! Even virtually!