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Instagram Launches New Suicide Prevention Effort

Posted at 9:19 PM, Oct 20, 2016

Instagram, the picture posting service, launched a new effort to combat suicide and self-harm on Monday by allowing others to alert Instagram of someone they're worried about. 

"I think that's pretty neat that Instagram is willing to kind of take that initiative," Samantha Nadler, Middle Tennessee regional coordinator for the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, said. 

It works like this: If someone on Instagram sees a post that leads them to worry about a friend, but they don't want to confront them themselves, they can report the post, and if someone from Instagram's 24/7 support team believes that person may have suicidal or self-harm thoughts, they can reach out to the poster and offer them help. 

"Having that conversation, asking someone directly about suicide, is half the battle," Nadler explained. "That's often the part that people are uncomfortable with, which is why the reporting piece on Facebook and Instagram is so valuable now." 

Instagram also offers help to people who search for hashtags that encourage behavior that can cause harm. 

"That feature shows that somebody cares and that somebody is watching and noticing what is going on," Nadler said. 

Nadler is a suicide attempt survivor herself, attempting to take her life most recently in 2008.

"I felt very isolated and alone, and my peers did not know how to talk to me about it," Nadler explained, adding that she thinks social media outreach could help save a life due to the ability to get someone help, either directly or indirectly.

"If you take your life today, you are eliminating the possibility for things to change," Nadler said. 

If you or someone you know is dealing with suicidal thoughts, you can give the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline a call at 1-800-273-TALK.