Self-Directed Violence

Telehelp, life and crisis lines, and call centers are important in dealing with self-directed violence. There are several online support groups that allow those at risk to reach out and connect with others, thus ensuring that they know that they are not alone. Awareness of and access to services permits many to move past the social stigma that is often attached to depression and suicide.

As in other areas of violence, there is controversy regarding the creation and use of some mobile applications, such as suicide-prevention applications. Some mobile applications let users track their moods and experiences, providing supplemental information for them as well as for their therapists.

As is the case with youth violence, blame is often placed on technology and media for suicide, and for teen suicide in particular, because of the presence of cyberbullying. Several speakers said that, in reality, it is difficult to determine how great a role media and technology have played in these deaths.

Potential Application to Disability and Impairment

Some speakers discussed the potential of information and communications technologies to reach and empower those populations who have cognitive or functional impairments or disabilities, but they noted this area has yet to be explored fully. Speaker and Forum member XinQi Dong of Rush Institute for Healthy Aging commented that the area of elder abuse involves very vulnerable groups, including those with Alzheimer’s disease and those who are highly dependent on others. People with disabilities are also at very high risk for experiencing all forms of violence. Speaker and Forum co-chair Mark Rosenberg of the Task Force for Global Health asked, “How can we use social media to compensate for some of the disabilities that people may have to start to protect them against some of the violence?”


Messaging needs to be at a pro-social level that is valuable and targeted for specific groups. For example, speaker Charlotte Cole of the Sesame Workshop spoke about her work in the Middle East, where she and her colleagues are trying to introduce kids in conflict situations to “the other” to reduce acrimony between groups. Their messages seek to model the interactions between the parent and the child. Ms. Cole said, “Having just gotten back from Kabul and watching kids watch this is just amazing. They are just riveted. Part of that is because there isn’t much on the screen that

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