There is no doubt that one of the biggest movements in world society over the last decade has been the rise in popularity of social media. From Facebook to Instagram to Twitter, we have more avenues than ever to express ourselves and showcase the highlights of our lives, but there is a dark side of the coin to all of this potential ‘showing off’. For some, going on social media can turn into a spiral of negativity that encourages thoughts of self-harm and sometimes even suicide. The taking of one’s own life is something that everybody has experience with; whether it be a friend, family member or even a public figure of whom you were a fan.
With all of this in mind, it is up to the rest of us to help monitor and react when we see posts from people that could be deemed as worrying. Here are some of the most recommended ways to interact with suicidal posts and posters online.
Use Reporting Systems
Whether you know the person posting the suicidal thoughts or not, you should not be afraid to use the appropriate reporting systems for the app or site that you are using. For the most prominent sites, systems have been put in place that refer the reported posts to professionals who are able to review it and take the appropriate actions. This can be anything from reaching out to the poster and offering support and help, to taking down and removing posts that are deemed to be troll posts made with sole intention of bringing others down around them. You can partake in such reporting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Tumblr.
If you feel secure and confident in reaching out personally, then don’t hesitate to do so. Sometimes all it can take for a person to come out of their immediate suicidal state is the validation that somebody actually cares. This is, of course, something deep down they already know, but the immediate dark depth of suicidal depression is very good at making people doubt themselves. Even if you think that you have said something similar to the person before, make the effort to say it once again because you have no idea what kind of impact it could have in the moment.
Refer Them To Helplines
If you don’t think that you are qualified or prepared enough to step in and reach out yourself, then you can do the next best thing by referring the suicidal poster to one of the many great helplines that are available these days. Contact can be made in an anonymous way if they prefer it, and pretty much every city and country has its own dedicated system that will be able to provide immediate conversation and help to those who need it. These helpline professionals will be specially trained in the techniques and devices that are most helpful to suicidal individuals in need, and they may end up being able to make a lasting impact than you could with a friendly but uninformed approach.
Don’t Engage From Afar
Don’t get into the practice of being one of those people who treats a depressed person’s social media posts as some sort of ‘tune in next time’ soap opera. These posts are a form of reaching out for help and watching and doing nothing is one of the worst things that you can do. Whether you know the person in real life or you are more of an online friend, or even if you don’t know them at all, it always makes an impact if you can be proactive in one way or another. That could be in the form of a personal message, or in the form of reporting as discussed above. Whatever you do, don’t just sit back and anticipate the next ‘update’, because eventually there might not be any more updates for the worst reason possible.
Ultimately, the final word on this is that any action is better than no action at all. Please keep this in mind the next time you see a cry for help issued on social media in the form of a suicide themed post.