Young people affected by social media

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

The growing influence of social media can effect young people both positively and negatively.

Simply ask Miss Kansas Hannah Klaassen. It is part of her job to be active on social media.

"Social media has become more a part of my life this year than I ever thought it would. I used to post maybe once every three to four months. Now, I'm posting two to three times a day, is the goal. Just to keep the audience engaged," said Klaassen.

The 20-year-old hopes to become a therapist and her social impact platform is "The Mind Matters" to advocate for mental health.

"I share the message of 'You matter and you're important' because I believe every life is valuable. And, I know what it's like to be a middle or high school student and feel a little worthless," said Klaassen.

But that social media tool has its dark sides.

"I once had a comment, I was too skinny and that I needed to eat a hamburger. And, I cried that night over that comment because I know that I am healthy. I've worked hard, especially over the past two years to eat right, to exercise, take care of myself. You don't want to be fat-shaming but we don't want to be skinny-shaming, either," she said.

In Sedgwick County, the number of suicides is increasing, from 96 in 2017 to 99 in 2018. And, those numbers include a pair of kids who were under the age of 12.

"We've seen a general trend in suicide rates increasing across the nation especially with young people," said Alicia Armstrong, therapist at KVC Hospitals.

Armstrong is encouraging parents to step in.

"Engage with your kiddo. Engage with your children. Talk to them about what's going on, instead of jumping straight to punishment and getting mad and taking things away," said Armstrong.

While Klaassen's reign is coming to end next month, she wants everyone to walk away with this message.

"Every life is important, even if you feel worthless one day. I promise your life matters and it will get better," said Klaassen.


If you are in a crisis or need help, here are resources:

CALL: You can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the Sedgwick County COMCARE crisis hotline (316) 660-7500

TEXT: You can text HOME to 741-741 

LEARN: You can learn more about mental health resources available at mentalhealth.gov

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