Breaking the Silence: Social media and suicide

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Editor’s Note: This is the 4th in a series of stories about how to talk about, handle and report suicide. Breaking The Silence is the name of this effort.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — These days there aren’t many people who don’t have a Facebook account. It’s a place where we catch up with our friends and follow along with life updates.

It’s also a place where people might post concerning content and engage in cyberbullying.

Social media giants are tackling cyberbullying and the effects it can have. With the help of suicide prevention experts around the nation, Facebook is leading the way in reaching more people with suicidal thoughts. When friends post they’re thinking about suicide, they’re looking for their friends to support them.

When friends see a concerning post, they can click a drop-down button and report the suicidal post to Facebook. Then the friend will receive advice for how to help and comfort them — and the person in distress will also get a notification from Facebook offering help, guidance and immediate resources.

“Sometimes people can be misunderstood in the way they communicate online or they can be abusive online or they can be insensitive online,” said Dr. John Draper, the Executive Director for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. “And we know that social support and connection and meaningful connection and caring connection can be the difference between life and death.” 

Resources:
Lines for Life: Call 800.273.8255 or text ‘273TALK’ to 839863
Oregon YouthLine: 877.968.8491 or text ‘teen2teen’ to 839863
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
OHA: Suicide Prevention

Draper said the idea is “to create a more socially supportive environment and use this tool as an educational opportunity to teach friends how to be caring friends in a social media environment.” 

Experts say most suicides that are prevented are prevented every day by friends. 

By giving more people more tools to help each other in crisis, it allows us to all shine a light on suicide and help each other get through the dark hours.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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