Over the past few years, many stories have emerged about cyber-bullying through social media, resulting in such profound humiliation and sadness for the victims that some have died by suicide to escape the pain of being ostracized.
It is in the wake of such tragedies that we must commit to a greater effort to use social media to prevent suicide. Regardless of the factors in a person’s life that contribute to their thoughts of suicide, social media is often where initial indicators that a person may be at risk pop up.
People contemplating suicide are more likely to drop clues or mention their plans to friends and family members than they are to a mental health professional. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have hundreds of millions of users worldwide who post daily. Researchers say that these posts can help prevent suicide if friends and family members learn to spot the signs.
Reporting Suicidal Content
In one recent case, a young man posted well wishes to all he knew, began giving away some personal items, and emailed his girlfriend through Facebook to let her know of his plans to end his life. Thankfully, he ended up getting help and subsequently allowed researchers to examine his Facebook posts to learn more about how people contemplating suicide use social media to indicate their intentions.
In 2011, Facebook implemented a “Report Suicidal Content” tool that allows users to connect directly through chat with a counselor at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Because hundreds of millions of people worldwide use Facebook and Twitter every day, the potential to help those contemplating suicide before it is too late is profound.
However, finding practical ways to determine which users may be at risk has been a challenge. Social media sites are now working with suicide prevention organizations to increase awareness and develop greater ability to screen for users posting suicidal messages.
BPD and Suicide
People suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are at higher risk for suicide than those suffering from any other personality disorder. Symptoms of suicidal behavior are the same in people with BPD as they are for anyone else. Familiarizing yourself with these signs could save the life of someone you know, even if they live on the other side of the world.
Often suicide attempts and indicators result in someone with Borderline Personality Disorder landing in the company of a mental health professional who can help usher them into BPD treatment. If you are in doubt, use the tools at your disposal on social networking sites to connect with a suicide prevention expert and see what steps you can take to help your friend or family member, whether or not they have Borderline Personality Disorder.
What do you think about using social media for suicide prevention?