Self-Injury

If your friend is in immediate danger, call local emergency services immediately. Don't wait.

It can be very hard to know what to say to someone who's told you that they're considering suicide, or who seems to be thinking about it but may not have told you directly.

Encouraging your friend to talk about what they're going through can be one of the most helpful things you can do for them. Being a good listener, and giving them the space they need to talk is important, as is following up with them regularly. You also can help by getting them to someone else they can trust, like a health care professional or another friend.

We've worked with suicide prevention experts to understand the best ways to support a person who's having suicidal thoughts. This list is informed by the work that Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention has done on suicide prevention.

Here's what you can do:

  • Look for warning signs: Your friend might say things like “I want to disappear” or “I want to end this.” They may indicate that they're feeling hopeless and helpless, or suggest that they're a burden to others. They may have lost interest in the things that they usually do, or they may be acting impulsively.
  • Empathize and listen: Give them your full attention. Try not to offer solutions or to convince them that things will get better; what they need most at this point is to feel heard. Help them to feel understood and don't judge them. Try asking open-ended questions that will get them talking about how they're feeling, like “I know you're going through a lot right now. Can we talk? I'd like to hear how you're feeling.”
  • Ask about suicide: By asking clearly and directly, “Are you thinking about suicide?” you show that you care and that you've heard how much distress they're in. You aren't increasing the risk of someone killing themselves by asking directly. If they say, “Yes, I'm thinking about suicide,” don't panic. Tell them how much courage it took them to tell you that, and continue the conversation. Encouraging them to talk about what they're going through can reduce their feelings of isolation.
  • Remove the danger: If they say that they're thinking about suicide, ask them if they have a plan. If they say yes, ask whether they have access to means, like drugs, a weapon or rope. It's important to do your best to get these items away from them, or to have other friends, or law enforcement, step in to help.

Help them get to the next level of care. Talking to your friend or family member is important, and you also might want to connect them with a counselor, health care professional or a helpline.

You may have seen a post on Instagram that worries you. If so, you can let us know about it by reporting the post and we may send some resources that we've developed with suicide prevention experts to the person. They won't know that you reported their post. In some cases, we may contact emergency services if they seem to be in immediate danger.

Caring for someone who is considering suicide can be very hard. Be sure to take care of yourself while you're going through this, and reach out to friends or health care professionals who can support you.

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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?"

I want to share my feelings and experiences with suicidal thoughts or behaviors online.

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’.

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.

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.

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 is best avoided. In some cases they 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 and if you come across unsafe or harmful responses try and 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:

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Suicide hotlines provide help to those in need. Contact a hotline if you need support yourself or need help supporting a friend. If you're concerned about a friend, please encourage the person to contact a hotline as well.

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If someone you know is in immediate physical danger, contact 911 or a suicide hotline immediately. Please explain to law enforcement that this is a member of their community so they can provide custom support.

We also ask that you report the content to us so we can reach out to this person with information that may be helpful to them:

  1. Tap (iPhone and Windows Phone) or(Android) below the post
  2. Tap Report > It's inappropriate
  3. Select Self injury

You can also share resources:

Learn about other resources and tips for providing support.

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If a friend or family member is planning suicide or you've seen a direct threat of suicide on Instagram, please contact your local emergency services or a suicide hotline immediately. We also ask that you tell us if you see something that suggests suicide or self-injury on Instagram.

The Veterans Crisis Line provides customized support to members of the military community, including veterans, active duty service members and their families. Support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

You can contact them by:

Additional resources available to the military community include:

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If you've encountered a direct threat of suicide on Instagram, please contact law enforcement or a suicide hotline immediately.

The Trevor Project specializes in suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth and offers a lifeline that people in the US can contact by calling 1-866-488-7386 or texting START to 678678. The Trevor Project also offers resources for concerned friends and family members of LGBTQ youth. Learn more about The Trevor Project on their website: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/.

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