I'm having thoughts about suicide or self-injury.
If you're in immediate physical danger, please contact local emergency services. If you're going through something difficult and the threat isn't immediate, we want you to know there are things you can do right now that may help you:
- Talk to someone at a helpline.
- Reach out to someone you trust. Contact someone you trust, like a family member, friend, counselor or teacher, and ask them to let you share what’s on your mind. For example, you could say, "I'm going through something difficult and was hoping to talk to you about it. If that's OK with you, can you take some time to listen?"
If you see posts that trigger you
This guidance is informed by the work that Orygen, The National Center of Excellence in Youth Mental Health has done on suicide prevention and taken from their resource ‘A Young Person’s Guide for Communicating Safely Online About Suicide’.
If you have a "Safety Plan", you can use the strategies outlined in it to help keep yourself safe. A “Safety Plan” is a structured plan that has been developed with support from a health professional. It outlines actions, coping strategies, and supportive people that could assist you when you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, feelings or behavior.
It’s important to have a plan in place in case you do feel upset or troubled by posts that you have shared yourself or seen from others. If you are feeling upset or overwhelmed by content you have seen, there are a few things that you could try:
- Talk to someone about how you are feeling.
- Take a break. This might include physically stepping away from social media for a while, logging out or engaging in a different activity.
- Take control of the content that you see. For example, if you are going through a rough patch, you may want to minimize the amount of suicide-related content you are exposed to by unfollowing accounts that may cause you distress.
I want to share my feelings about suicide or self-injury
There may be times where you want to share your own experience with suicidal thoughts, feelings or behavior with your friends online. If you are currently experiencing suicidal thoughts, feelings or behaviors you should talk to a trusted adult or friend or reach out to a professional mental health service or, if you need urgent help, contact your local emergency room by phone or go to the hospital for assistance.
Before you do post about suicide, take some time to think about why you want to share this post, how sharing it will make you feel, and remember that posts can be hard to take back. Also reflect on how your post could affect other people and whether or not there is a different way to communicate this information that is safer or more helpful.
- Graphic or descriptive content can be harmful or distressing for others, so it is best avoided. In some cases, this content may be removed or marked as sensitive. However, if your post does include this type of content, you should consider providing a trigger warning at the top of your post. You can also include phone numbers or links to appropriate help services, such as helplines, local suicide prevention services or local emergency services.
- It can also be helpful to emphasize 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:
- The people, activities and actions that supported your recovery and how you coped.
- The positive experiences you had when seeking help.
- Finally, it may be helpful to monitor your post. If you come across unsafe or harmful responses, try to avoid arguing with other users in the comments section. Instead you could consider deleting the user’s comment or filtering words or phrases. Learn more about Instagram’s safety tools to help control your experience.
You can also read Orygen's full guides made for specific locations:
- How do I learn more about wildlife exploitation?
- How do I talk to a friend about eating disorders?
- I'm worried about someone after seeing content they've shared on Instagram about suicide or self-injury. What can I do?
- How do I help an LGBTQ person who has shared suicidal content on Instagram?
- How do I help a member of the US military community (example: active soldier, veteran or family member) who has shared suicidal content on Instagram?