CLICK HERE for information from the FBI on what families need to know about sextortion. 

There's a dangerous crime called "sextortion" becoming more common across the state and the country targeting teens on social media.

Sextortion is now being called an epidemic as criminals threaten teens to the point of suicide.

Toni Notaro, clinical specialist of the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board, said cases more than doubled across the country in the past three years.

Just days ago, there was a Northeast Ohio sextortion victim. Portage County 17-year-old James Woods died by suicide and his family is now trying to spread awareness.

The FBI said, "Sextortion is a serious crime that occurs when someone threatens to distribute your private and sensitive material if you don't provide them images of a sexual nature, sexual favors, or money."

Commonly sextortion happens when a criminal, often overseas, finds a teen on social media to exploit by "catfishing" and then blackmails or threatens the teen for money or private materials.

"They pressure them to send a picture and once they do, they have them," Notaro said.

Professionals said parents and teens need to stay aware.

"Oftentimes, the suicide is occurring within 24 hours of the contact because they're so mortified," she said.

She said parental controls and dialog are extremely important.

"Having a relationship that's open enough with your child that you can talk about these things," she said, "These are hard conversations to have, but they need to be had."

FBI Cleveland tells 21 News:

It is never too late to report sextortion, as we often see these offenders engaged in this activity over extended periods of time. We even see predators conspiring together about methods to evade detection by law enforcement.

Predators may have hundreds of victims around the world. Coming forward to help law enforcement identify the offender may prevent countless other incidents of sexual exploitation.

If you are being threatened or coerced online, tell someone. There is help and there is hope. The victim is not the one who committed a crime. And, if someone they know may be a victim of sextortion, we urge you to take action:

o To report suspected sextortion, call the Cleveland FBI field office 216-522-1400.

o Call 1-800-CALL FBI

o tips.fbi.gov