If you’re concerned about someone because of the content of their 'post', talk to the person directly, either on or offline, before posting your concerns. It may also be helpful for you to inform a 'trusted adult or friend' and, if available, seek professional advice. If you are concerned about someone who has experienced suicidal thoughts, feelings, or behaviour, do not post anything you would not say directly to them in-person.
Reaching out to others online can be an important source of affirmation, connection and support for many. Always take any content that suggests a person may be thinking about suicide seriously, but make sure you set boundaries about the type of support you are able to offer and when you are able to offer it.
Regardless of whether you think someone may be at immediate risk of suicide or not, you should put your own wellbeing first and do not put yourself in any physical danger.
Responding to someone who may be suicidal
Before responding to someone who has indicated they may be at risk of suicide, check in with yourself.
Before responding to someone who has indicated they may be at risk of suicide, ask yourself the following:
If you are concerned or do not feel comfortable responding to a 'post' that suggests someone may be at risk of suicide, that is ok. Do not feel like it is your responsibility to reach out on your own. Instead you could do the following:
If you decide to respond to a person who may be at risk of suicide, let the person know that you care about them and respond without judgement, assumptions or interruptions.
Let the person at risk explain their thoughts, feelings and experiences in their own words. When responding to someone who may be at risk of suicide, here are a few things that you could do:
There are many complex factors that lead to someone feeling suicidal, so it is important to communicate about suicide in a safe way.
There are many complex factors that lead to someone feeling suicidal, so it is important to 'communicate about suicide' in a safe way. This is particularly important when communicating online, because the information you 'share' can reach tens of thousands of people extremely quickly. It is possible that some people, who already feel vulnerable, may engage in copycat suicide behaviour or may be negatively affected following exposure to suicide-related content online. Particularly when the content is extensive, exaggerates, or sensationalises suicide; repeats myths or misperceptions about suicide; or presents suicide in a positive or glorified way.
This page offers some general tips for communicating about suicide. This includes some things that are unhelpful, as well as helpful alternatives that you could use.
Don’t use words that describe suicide as criminal or sinful. This may suggest to someone that what they are feeling is wrong or unacceptable, or make someone worry that they'll be judged if they ask for help.
Don’t use words that glamourise, romanticise, or make suicide seem appealing.
Don’t use words that trivialise or make suicide seem less complex than it really is.
Don’t sensationalise suicide.
Don’t use judgmental phrases which reinforce myths, stigma, stereotypes or suggest nothing can be done about suicide.
Don’t provide detailed information about the actual suicide or suicide attempt.
Don’t describe suicide as a desirable outcome.
Ask the person directly if they are thinking of suicide.
Ask the person directly if they are thinking of suicide. Research has shown that there is no evidence that asking about suicide increases the likelihood of a person engaging in suicidal behaviour.
If you are worried or concerned that someone might be experiencing suicidal thoughts, feelings or behaviour, here are some questions that you could ask:
You could also look at the person’s posts to specify exactly why you are worried about them. For example, in a direct or 'private message' you could say:
"I just wanted to check in, because you posted [this] and I am worried about you. It sounds like you might be feeling suicidal, is that the case?"
Don't let embarrassment or concern about offending or upsetting the person stop you from reaching out and offering help. There is no perfect or right thing to say to someone in these situations and it is better to make a supportive attempt to reach out than to make no attempt at all.
Reassure the person that support is available and encourage them to seek professional help
If you contact the person and they indicate that they are not at immediate risk of suicide, reassure the person that support is available and encourage them to seek professional help. Some examples of things you could do are:
If the person does not want help, respect what they tell you. If you feel comfortable, you could check in with the person to demonstrate that you care. For example, you could DM, text, or call them to offer support.
If they say “no”, it’s best not to pressure them. Don’t always expect a positive response and don’t take this personally; this person might be struggling to cope and may feel angry, upset or ambivalent. They may appreciate your help later, when they’re feeling better. If the person doesn’t want help, here are some helpful ways you can respond:
If at any time you think you might have said the wrong thing, don’t panic. Show that you care and that you can see that they are going through a tough time.
Call 000 or contact the person's family or someone in their social network who may be able to check on them
Sometimes it will be clear that a person is at immediate risk of suicide or a person may be in the process of making a suicide attempt. If this occurs, you should:
If you cannot reach the person, or anyone in their family or social network, or the person refuses to call emergency services you should:
Once you have contacted emergency services, you should:
If you contact emergency services on the person’s behalf, keep the person at risk informed about what is happening, unless this might increase the risk to them or someone else.
If possible, try to maintain a conversation with the person until help arrives. Be prepared to provide emergency services with the following information:
Social media platforms often encourage the use of images, photos, videos and other multimedia. However, these can sometimes have unintended harmful consequences
Interacting with others through comments and posts is a key element of engaging with others online.
If you have made a 'post' that refers to suicide or suicidal behaviour, or you have shared or replied to a post that involves suicide-related content, it can be helpful to monitor your post regularly for unsafe or harmful comments or content.
Here are some examples of harmful content:
Have a plan in place about what to do if a person indicates that they are feeling distressed as a result of your post.
You might find it helpful to have a plan in place about what to do if a person indicates that they are feeling distressed as a result of your 'post'.
For example, you could provide them with information about or a link to a support service such as a suicide prevention or counselling helpline.
If you include links to support services, they should be placed clearly at the beginning of your post and only include services that you know are reputable.
It can also be helpful to emphasise parts of your experience that demonstrate the importance of seeking help early and messages that reduce stigma and promote hope and recovery. Some examples include:
Whether you are an occasional or frequent user of social media, be aware that sometimes repeated exposure to negative content could impact upon your own wellbeing.
Whether you are an occasional or frequent 'user' of 'social media', be aware that sometimes repeated exposure to negative content (e.g. conversations, images or videos about suicide) could impact upon your own wellbeing. It’s also possible that a one-off 'post' may trigger negative thoughts and feelings. It’s important to have a plan in place in case you do feel upset or troubled by posts that you have shared or seen.
If you are feeling upset or overwhelmed, there are a few things that you could try:
☎️ Online and phone support services
📔 Social media platform resources
☎️ Call 000
For less urgent assistance, contact one of the following support services.
Provides free 24/7 telephone, online, and video counselling and crisis support to all Australians affected by suicide.
☎️ Call 1300 659 467
🌏️ Visit suicidecallbackservice.org.au
Provides free 24/7 online and phone personal crisis support and suicide prevention services to all Australians.
☎️ Call 13 11 14
🌏️ Visit lifeline.org.au
Provides free and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling for children and young people aged between five and 25 years.
☎️ Call 1800 551 800
🌏️ Visit kidshelpline.com.au
Provides email, chat and phone counselling for young people aged between 12 and 25 years. eheadspace operates seven days a week, from 9:00am to 1:00am AEDST.
☎️ Call 1800 650 890
🌏️ Visit eheadspace.org.au
Australian suicide prevention resources available through different 'social media' platforms.
Facebook Help Centre has a number of tools to help people who have come across suicide-related material. The Suicide Prevention Help Centre provides information on how to report suicide content to a trained member of their safety team who will identify the 'post' and the location of the 'user'. If necessary, they can contact emergency services to assist those at risk of suicide or self-harm. The Suicide Prevention Help Centre also provides information on country-specific suicide prevention helplines to assist people who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts, feelings or behaviour.
Instagram Help Centre provides details to assist users to report content that suggests a person may be at risk of suicide or self- harm. Users can report content by
The help centre also provides links to suicide prevention websites and hotlines that can assist people during a suicidal crisis.
Snapchat Support Centre recommends users who are concerned about a fellow user encourage the person to seek help or consult with a professional service. If users don’t feel comfortable engaging with the person who may be at risk of suicide, they can report a safety concern by:
Twitter Help Centre provides information on how to report self-harm and suicide-related content to a trained team devoted to responding to people who share content that suggests they may be at risk of self-harm or suicide. Information on how to recognise the signs of self-harm and suicide are provided, as well as an online form to alert the Twitter suicide prevention response team.