Responding to a cry for help: Best practices for online technologies


(For resources, this is the publication date. For programs, this is the date posted.)


Reidenberg D, Wolens F, James C.
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE)

These resources were developed for organizations with an online presence such as a website, blog, or Twitter, Facebook, YouTube accounts, that may encounter someone suicidal. Three levels of response to suicidal ideation or intent ranging from basic to advanced were developed by industry and mental health experts and presented in chart form.

Responding to a Cry for Help: Best Practices for Online Technologies provides recommendations for the development of policies and resources that decrease suicide risk amongst users of online technologies. The recommendations are organized into basic, mid-level and advanced levels.  Basic recommendations address providing help, policies for responding to suicide content, and referrals. Mid-level recommendations address guidelines, user reporting, partnerships, contextual messaging, and education. Advanced recommendations address timely response, outreach, and cultural competency. 

Officials from online technology companies and suicide prevention professionals had two face-to-face meetings to discuss and create the recommendations. The recommendations were further refined through a review of relevant literature, additional expert review, and discussions. The initial meeting was conducted by Daniel Reidenberg of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) and officials from Facebook, Google, YouTube, Microsoft, Tumbler, Twitter, WordPress, Yahoo, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the Suicide Research Unit—Medical University of Vienna, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Research regarding suicide prevention amongst users of online technologies is in its infancy. There remains is still much to be learned. It is therefore important to acknowledge that these recommendations are based upon the best available knowledge and are subject to revision as more is learned.

Program Objectives:

Organizations that use the Responding to a Cry for Help: Best Practices for Online Technologies will have:
1.Increased knowledge of suicide prevention resources for technology platforms and social media.
2.Increased knowledge of how technology platforms and social media can help reduce suicide risk amongst online technology users.