"It was like asking me to climb Mount Everest in high heels," she says.It would be three years before Faith-Ann, now 20 and a film student in Los Angeles, told her parents about the depth of her distress.They are the post-9/11 generation, raised in an era of economic and national insecurity.
Sure, parental micromanaging can be a factor, as can school stress, but Whitlock doesn't think those things are the main drivers of this epidemic.Every fight or slight is documented online for hours or days after the incident.It's exhausting."We're the first generation that cannot escape our problems at all," says Faith-Ann. We're getting this constant pressure, from our phones, from our relationships, from the way things are today."Steve Schneider, a counselor at Sheboygan South High School in southeastern Wisconsin, says the situation is like a scab that's constantly being picked."At no point do you get to remove yourself from it and get perspective," he says.
It's hard for many adults to understand how much of teenagers' emotional life is lived within the small screens on their phones, but a CNN special report in 2015 conducted with researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the University of Texas at Dallas examined the social-media use of more than 200 13-year-olds.It was 2 in the morning, and as her parents slept, she sat on the edge of the tub at her home outside Bangor, Maine, with a metal clip from a pen in her hand. "For a while I didn't want to stop, because it was my only coping mechanism.