Helping Online Friends Hinting at Suicide

What should you do if you see a friend online talking about harming themselves? One social media site is developing tools to help you navigate this sensitively.

Watch: Help for Someone Considering Suicide

Instagram announced they integrating ways to be able to anonymously report friends talking about harming themselves. That friend will get a message saying, "Someone saw one of your posts and thinks you might be going through a difficult time. If you need support, we'd like to help." Through the app you will be able to contact a helpline, talk to a friend, or get tips and support. 

"There's a chance this will save lives," says ER physician Dr. Travis Stork. Psychotherapist Mike Dow joins The Doctors sharing, "I think it's a fantastic idea." He goes on to share that in a lot of adolescents that he's treated there's usually a cry for help. And teens, rather than talking to their parents, do use social media to hint at things. "Whether it's self mutilation or an eating disorder, there will usually be something said to somebody." 

These tools have been designed to let you know that you are surrounded by a community that cares about you at a moment when you might need to hear it. 

Anyone suffering from depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide can be helped by these tools. And as Mike Dow points out,  "...maybe it's someone who struggles with confidence, maybe they have a little social anxiety - that's very common in adults and in teens. I think we can use it to really help even when a mental health professional is not  needed to really boost people's self esteem." 

Watch: App Linked to Teen Suicide? 

Instagram worked with mental health experts and groups like National Eating Disorders Association & The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline along with real people with experience with eating disorders, self-harm, or suicide to come up with the right language and prompts. 

Are people going to use this Instagram function? It's better safe than sorry.