Many people worry about how their family and friends would react if they found out
that someone close to them was feeling suicidal or depressed.
So they turn to online support to find the answers that they need.
And those answers are not always there or as expected,
increasing the risk of suicidal behaviors.
To prevent suicide it is extremely important to know the warning signs
in an online environment, and who to contact when support is needed.
We created this guide specially for suicide prevention to help those who need
help in difficult times, whether this support is for yourself or someone you know.
Warning Signs Of Suicide
When someone is thinking about suicide, their behavior changes.
It can be hard to notice behavioral changes, especially when you don't know the
person personally or in an online environment.
But there are some common warning signs that you should look out for which include:
- Talking About Suicide: A user may say they want to hurt themself or harm themselves. Some phrases they might use, “I’m better off dead”, “I wish I could kill myself”.
- Seeking Out Weapons: A user asking about pills, knives, guns, or even how to kill themselves.
- Self-Loathing: Saying that they hate themselves and they are “useless”. As well as other self-hating words and phrases.
- No Hope For The Future: Saying stuff like ‘What’s the point in trying’, and ‘Nothing will ever change’.
- Always Focused on Death: A user writing posts, stories or poems that are always focused on death. Sometimes these may be extremely graphic in the words that are used.
It's important to act, whenever you see these signs from another user in
the community, your friends or family members.
In the next few sections, we’ll talk about how you can help someone else,
or yourself if you’re feeling depressed or suicidal.
I’m Having Suicidal Thoughts
If you are having thoughts of suicide, always talk to someone that will be supportive.
There are a number of people you can speak to, when feeling suicidal or
- Close Relatives
- Support Organisations (List of international support hotlines here)
When speaking to someone, always find someone that will be supportive and that you trust.
If you feel alone with no-one to speak to, there are a number of support organisations that will be happy to
listen at any time of the day or night. You can find a complete list of 24/7 support numbers you can call at any time for your country on the open counseling website. Do not worry about contacting these support organisations, as all calls made can be anonymous.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking over the phone,
that’s perfectly fine. Many support organisations also offer email and live
chat options (see our list of Important Contacts below).
I’m Prepared to Hurt Myself
If you are already taking the steps to end your life or are having really intense suicidal thoughts, then you need emergency help. It is really important in this scenario to call the emergency services in your country or visit the (Accident & Emergency) A & E department as soon as possible.
List of emergency phone numbers for your country can be found on the open counseling website.
I’ve Already Hurt Myself
This is a serious emergency and you must call an ambulance.
Do not delay or wait for anyone. While waiting for the ambulance, stay where you are and do not try to move (unless you are in immediate danger).Please do not worry about calling the ambulance, they will be able to provide the best care and support needed.
I Want to Share My Feelings About Suicide & Depression
It's okay to share your feelings about depression and suicide online,
if this makes you feel more comfortable. Here are some tips we recommend,
if you do choose to share your feelings about suicide and depression online:
- Before posting, take some time to think about why and how sharing your feelings online will help you. Remember once a post or piece of content is shared online it can be very difficult to remove or take back.
- Before posting, always consider other users in the community. Would this information be helpful or upsetting for other users? If you feel the content might be upsetting or disturbing, then please do not share this content online. Instead you should speak directly to someone you trust or a support organisation.
- Consider the privacy of the post itself. Do you only want friends to know about these feelings, or do you think the general public would benefit from reading this post/content?
- Whenever possible, you should include phone numbers and links to support organisations to help others who may feel the same way.
- You should also include a warning at the beginning of the post or content, that this content may contain some upsetting or sensitive issues that may cause distress to some readers.
- Be careful about how much detail you share. Most descriptive or graphic content can be very upsetting to other users, so it is best avoided.
- It can be helpful to highlight points of your own journey when you seeked help and received support. This can give hope to others that they too can overcome these feelings.
- It can be helpful to tell people about the activities, people and actions you took to cope with these feelings.
- Always report any comments or responses which are negative, or hurting your feelings. And block the user to stop them from posting further negative comments.
I’m Worried About Someone Else
If you have a friend or family member who is in immediate danger, then please call the local emergency services immediately. Do not wait.
In most cases, when you are using online communities, it can be hard to know if a person is in immediate danger. You may have seen a post by a user who is talking about feeling depressed or showing other warning signs of suicide (see section above) - In this case you can take the following actions:
- Talk to them, and encourage them to speak to someone that they trust in person. If they have no-one else, provide them with some phone numbers for support organisations that can help them.
- Report the content, so the website/app owner can directly contact that user and help them receive the support they need. Do not worry, that user won’t know who reported them. In some cases, the site/app owner may contact emergency services if the user seems to be in immediate danger.
- Check in with that user regularly. You can ask about their feelings and about their plans, or even other interests or hobbies.
- Caring for someone who is feeling suicidal can be tough. It is important to look after yourself, while helping others. You may also want to speak to your own friends, family or support organisations about the situation.
Know who to contact when feeling depressed or suicidal:
Below are some mobile apps we recommend that can help with depression, and suicidal thoughts. Please note: Use of these apps is not a substitute for a consultation with a healthcare expert. You should book an appointment with an expert as soon as possible if you need help.
- Calm Harm App: Calm Harm provides tasks to help you resist or manage the urge to self-harm.
- Check-In by Beyond Blue: The Check-in app was designed in consultation with young people to help take the fear out of having a conversation with a friend who might be struggling.
- Chats For Life App: The Chats for life app will help you to plan a conversation with someone that you may be concerned about, who may be struggling or not going well.
- TalkLife App: Provides peer support from other users for mental health. Chat with other users and experts about how you are feeling.
- Daylio: Self-Care Bullet Journal with Goals, Mood Diary & Happiness Tracker.
- Woebot: Chat with Woebot about your feelings, and track your mood overtime.
- Kooth: Online mental wellbeing community for young people.