Some Guidelines for Approaching Posters who are Severely Depressed / Express Suicidal Ideation

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As the community grows, it's possible that we'll encounter some anonymous users who are depressed and possibly suicidal. It is our belief that we should not exclude such posters from contributing here, as this may be their most comfortable outlet. As such, we're developing ways for us, as a community, to be of the most help to such individuals, while minimizing any damaging repercussions.

It happened quite a few times in the original iteration of the community, and it's important to be equipped to handle such a situation in case it arises. As such, I'm adapting the guidelines I wrote several years to Hive's community (you'll find nearly identical phrasing in an old post on a different platform).

Here are some guidelines to consider when you come across someone suicidal online:

  • The key is to read what's being said as if a close friend or family member was telling you what's being said. Remember that you're mainly there for understanding and support. It is good to acknowledge this fact in whatever you say.

  • Acknowledge that the person is going through a difficult time. If they've been through a similar experience before, it's excellent to acknowledge that they've already had the strength to get through their ordeal before. If they haven't, acknowledge that prior life experiences can help, that they're not alone, that have a support network, etc.

  • Also acknowledge that your experiences are not identical to theirs. No two people have identical experiences, but they can still provide some sort of emotional support.

  • It also helps to look into a user's prior post/comment history to get a better idea of where they're coming from. If you find a golden nugget (such as a comment indicating a moment of personal power), this can definitely help boost someone.

  • Don't necessarily give advice. You must know your own limits. If someone's asking for professional advice, and you're not licensed, don't give it out. If you can't give advice, that's completely ok. Remember that people may come here primarily for emotional support.

  • Although these posts may occur under the guise of selfie/photographs, please do not make the photograph the center of your comment. Although it is a diversion, commenting purely on superficial features to a person who is considering suicide is simply bad timing. It is better to not say anything.

  • If you promise to talk to someone, commit to it. If you're unable to continue at the time, be honest and say that you'll continue later - and stick to the promise. It is essential to establish and maintain trust. Do not make promises that you can't keep.

There are some other excellent suggestions given on this page. Remember that we are not a primary resource to assist those folks with suicidal ideations - rather, we are a channel for communication and giving better resources to help them out.

Here are some handy resources to suggest:

  • http://www.metanoia.org/suicide/ - this website offers a very poignant perspective for those who are absolutely on the verge of suicide. It is an excellent first resource to suggest.

  • National Suicide Hotline - 988

Example:

Finally, I'll provide you a brief example of an effective comment that I used several years ago, which can be used as a template (resources may be adjusted to include the aforementioned hotline). Notice how it follows the general guidelines listed above and offers external resources which may be more helpful than we alone can be.

Here's a template you can use (please adjust to the individual's particular situation as much as feasible):

Hey listen, if you're seriously considering suicide, please either call or text 988 (the National Suicide Helpline), or reach out to an anonymous online therapist to whom you can talk right now. Those folks are more qualified to give you some good wholesome advice on how to cope with your situation. The best compliment you can give yourself is to help yourself, because you deserve to be happy.
If you can't use or are uncomfortable with using those services, I'll talk to you for a little while, but you have to promise me that first thing tomorrow morning, you'll reach out to a doctor or qualified therapist so that they can help you in the best way possible.
I really hope that things pick up for you. It's definitely not easy, but once you bring yourself out of this tough situation, you'll be able to speak to and help others from a very unique and experienced point of view. You will provide a priceless value to someone's world. Please keep holding on.

Feel free to add your thought(s) and suggestion(s), and I'll update this post as appropriate.


Coming next, some guidelines for regular compliments!

Thank you all for reading this and for your participation in this community, whether you're giving or asking for compliments. Without you, this community would be an empty space. You're all bringing life to something wonderful.

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