Helping someone online

When someone you know online is writing about self-harm or suicide, it can be hard to know how to help. People use social media to connect with other people, to share the things that are important to them. It comes as no surprise that some people also use it to reach out when they are in distress.

Warning signs include:

  • Writing about wanting to die or to commit suicide
  • Writing about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Writing about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Writing about being a burden to others

If a person you know in real life is showing these signs:

  • If you believe the person to be in immediate danger, call 111 and ask for the police. Give the operator as much information as possible to help them find the person
  • If you don’t think the person is in immediate danger, call Lifeline (0800 543 354) or Youthline (0800 376 633) and get professional advice about how to help.
  • Let the person know how to seek help. Let them know you care, send them the number of local helplines, and encourage them to call.
  • Contact their parents or someone else who can help. It’s important to let others know about your concerns so they can take steps to help.

If you don’t know the person in real life, you can still help:

You can contact the person directly and encourage them to call a helpline. Otherwise, contact the safety teams at the social media sites listed below.

Facebook: Click here to anonymously report someone as suicidal on Facebook. A member of Facebook’s Safety Team will send the user an e-mail with the Lifeline number.

Twitter: Click here and select “Self-Harm” to send an e-mail to Twitter reporting a suicidal user. Twitter will send the user a direct message with the Lifeline number. Read more about how Twitter responds to suicidal and self-harm posts.

YouTube: To report suicidal content, click on the flag icon under a video and select “Harmful Dangerous Acts” and then “Suicide or Self-Injury.” YouTube will then review the video and may send a message to the user who uploaded the video. There is currently no official way to report suicidal content on Encourage the person to call a helpline, and post the helpline numbers.

Tumblr: If you see content on Tumblr that makes you think that the poster may be suicidal:

  1. Scroll to the top of your dashboard.
  2. See the circular question mark icon at the top? It’s the third one over from your home symbol. Click on that, and a screen similar to the one in the picture will come up.
  3. Where you can type in questions, the box with the magnifying glass at the top, type in the word “suicide.”
  4. Click on the first link that shows up. It should say, “Pass the URL of the blog on to us.”
  5. Type in the user’s URL and tell Tumblr admin that the user is contemplating suicide/has posted a message indicating that they are going through with it or will be attempting. Try to include as much detail as possible – anything you know about the user could be useful! Hit send. Tumblr administration will perform a number of actions to contact the user and do what’s in their power to help them

MySpace: Click on the “Report Abuse” link that appears at the bottom of every MySpace page and complete the form. MySpace will then send an e-mail to the MySpace user.