How do I help a stranger online who is exhibiting signs of mental illness?
Thank you for the concern you’ve expressed about a post on social media.
We’ve come a long way in destigmatizing mental illness, and often someone may feel safer about disclosing their feelings in an online setting. While feeling suicidal or thinking about suicide is common, it’s important to take such comments seriously. You can take the initiative and show your concern – when someone is suffering, it can be difficult for them to remember that they matter or that people care. You could be the important link that someone needs to get connected to treatment and support that they need.
It would be best if you can report the post you are concerned about so that the platform can contact the poster and let them know where they can go for help. Facebook and Instagram both have suicide prevention tools that allow users to report content, share resources and offer tips on how to provide support.
You may wish to consult the Risk of Suicide page on NAMI’s website that discusses how to help when someone shows signs of suicidal thoughts. Also, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention offers helpful guidance on how to help When Someone is at Risk.
Additionally, Speaking of Suicide.com is a website for individuals and their loved ones and survivors that provides extensive information on resources for help. In particular, the website provides extensive information in its Friends and Family section on how to talk with and help someone who is having suicidal thoughts.