Social media and suicide
During the call with students, Francis also addressed high suicide rates among young people, anxiety, and what he called “digital manipulation” on social media.
“While this is a tragic reality, young people commit suicide because they are faced with closed doors, they were looking for something and they couldn’t find it,” the pope said. “There are countries where the suicide rate is incredibly high among young people because they can’t manage failure, especially when they can’t find a job, so they lose all hope.”
Francis said that failure “is actually a call, it’s an appeal.”
“We’re not angels because angels have fallen only once whereas we fell many times due to our limits. But God always gives us the reliance to stand up again, so he takes us by our hands and helps us stand up,” he went on. “The important thing is not to not fall, but not to stay, or lay, on the ground. That’s wisdom, I fall down but then I stand up again.”
According to Francis, “digital manipulation” on social media is “altering our understanding of social and political reality.”
By this phrase, the pope explained that messaging young people are exposed to through social media, the media, and entertainment distracts from true beauty and harmony.
“So, what’s really pressing is being educated to a new form of communication to avoid this anxiety of digital manipulation,” Francis said. “So as professionals, as students, I’m asking you to take a critical stance towards the positions expressed by the media, by TV programs, you are university students, you must have some critical thinking.
The pope concluded this portion of his talk with young people by imploring them to “look for the true beauty and the true harmony of an individual.”
“A person that lives in harmony regardless of being fat, thin, skinny, is the most important thing,” Francis said, adding: “Don’t be afraid, don’t lose your sense of humor, because humor means mental health.”