“Tell Me What the Reality Looks Like”: Trying to Stop Suicides as Social Media Explodes
June 16, 2017
Social media poses both challenges and opportunities for suicide prevention, according to experts. Researchers have documented an association between certain news coverage and suicide risk, which has informed the development of standardized recommendations on how to safely and effectively report on suicide. While the link between social media and suicide risk is less clear, experts warn that platforms such as Facebook and YouTube have the ability to deliver sensational content to large audiences, which can send harmful messages to those who are vulnerable. Daniel J. Reidenberg, who contributed to the reporting recommendations, has created recommendations for blogging on suicide, which include guidance on responding to inflammatory comments and suicide threats. Reidenberg and other experts argue that social media can also help prevent suicide by providing people in crisis with resources and support. For example, Facebook recently launched new suicide prevention tools that connect users with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Crisis Text Line.