Blogger Jonathan Dolce

Children, Pornography and Suicide

red octagon with hand raised palm up in stop gesture

Children, Pornography and Suicide

I know that Children, Pornography and Suicide are terms you never want to hear in tandem.  As tough as it is, it is a reality.  Most of us work with children who are at-risk.  And as Chris Crutcher once said, “When you work with at-risk children, you are going to lose some.  I don’t like that answer”.

The CDC reported in 2019 that:

the number of young people dying of suicide jumped…56% between 2007 and 2017

That’s people aged 10-24 years of age, well within our realm of service.

While we don’t want to think of any child as being capable of “looking up porn”, the reality is, it is ubiquitous.  We know how to lock our doors from strangers, and how to train children to recognize a multitude of dangers.  We understand that substance abuse claims over 70,000 children every year in the U.S.  But think on this: “porn addiction is one of the most addictive drugs out there today.  Unlike removing the substance from a drug addict…sexual images…are always within reach of the user’s memory”.

We serve children ages 0-14.  Between the ages of 10 and 13, a child’s brain development is happening at an elevated rate.  In fact, at the age of 13, it is some of the last gray matter growth before adulthood.  Children in this critical time period and thanks to full production of dopamine, experience pleasure at four times the normal rate.  Thus, children are at-risk, becoming wired in response to pornography (US Library of Medicine)

The average age of first Internet exposure to pornography has been reported to be 11 years, and the largest consumer group was found among 12–17-year-olds

And just this past month, the front cover of neaToday is dedicated to the issue of student suicide, that

1 in 6 Students Thinks About Suicide

Pornography and Suicide?

You may be wondering how we can equate pornography and suicide.  The causal link is that the regular consumption of pornography in children is an aggravating factor for suicidal thoughts.  Consider these risk factors for suicide:

  • Childhood abuse or neglect – isolationism
  • Substance abuse
  • Family dysfunction
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem; negative self-perception
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of shame and guilt

Mental health professionals nationwide are noting an uptick in the number of children becoming addicted to pornography.  Consider a few of the symptoms of pornography addiction:

  • Anxiety
  • Low motivation
  • Depression
  • Negative self-perception

There are frighteningly direct correlations.

One Symptom at a Time

Still not convinced?  Let’s take this one symptom at a time.

Childhood abuse or neglect:

Exposing children to pornography is abuse.  Not paying attention to what a child consumes online could be considered neglect.  Pornography is easily accessible, is available in unlimited amounts, and is the cheapest, easiest habit to pick up.  It’s cheaper and easier to pick up than any substance abuse.

Substance abuse:

We have already proven (see above) that pornography is not only one of the most addictive drugs available, but children are more prone to falling into addiction due to their chemical make up.


Twice as many 10–17-year-old online seekers of pornography reported clinical features of major depression compared with their peers

Children, then are twice as likely to suffer depressive thoughts – fertile ground for suicidal thought – as adults, from the regular consumption of pornography.

What Can I Do?

I hope by this point, you are asking yourself, “What can I do?”

Get the facts: Lifeline for Youth is a great place to start










Want to start a movement?  Consider joining one, or at least examining how one non-profit does it, namely FTND.

Next Month

And lastly, next I want to talk with you about the number 10, 824 – the number of new child pornographic images detected online every twelve hours.

902 per hour

1 every four (4) minutes



  1. Kelly Doolittle

    I had not realized this was such an issue. We’ve talked so much about substance abuse, bullying, and social justice issues. I have never heard about the abuse of and addiction to porn for kids of the age I serve!

    Thank you so much for bringing this problem to the light, Jonathan. This is an eye-opener for me, and I will try my best to be on the alert for kids that may be suffering.

  2. Elise

    Great article and something in dire need of more dialog. This is a subject everyone seems to whisper about but is unwilling to tackle. Our kids need to understand that it isn’t just being naughty it’s a dangerous spiral into possible addictions.

  3. Todd

    Not just a young person issue

  4. Laura

    I may need to see a peer reviewed study, rather than wonder at a few lines written here.

    1. Jonathan Dolce

      Hi Ms. Laura, Thank you for reaching out. Here are a few things I think I can clarify for you: Pornography agitates depression by over-using dopamines while watching pornography, leaving the viewer feeling more hopeless and helpless.

      Psychology Today has a peer reviewed article for your reference by Sam Louie MA, LMHC, S-PSB: Sex, Shame, and Suicide: The relationship between suicide and compulsive sexual behaviors, June 18, 2020 | Reviewed by Abigail Fagan.

      Sam Louie is a therapist in Seattle who specializes in multicultural issues and sexual compulsivity.


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