Mental Health Experts, Internet Companies Partner on First Suicide Prevention Guide for Online Technology

Dec 16, 2013, 13:24 ET from SAVE - Suicide Awareness Voices of Education

MINNEAPOLIS, Dec. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With nearly 1 million people estimated to die by suicide each year according to the World Health Organization, suicide prevention experts and leading internet companies today announced a new program to help people struggling with suicidal thoughts and intentions. Responding to a Cry for Help:  Best Practices for Online Technologies is a policy and resource guide for new and emerging technology companies to decrease suicide risk among their users.  The 2,700 suicides per day which far surpass deaths by conflict and homicide, impacts entire communities of families, friends, co-workers and others who know victims. 

The new guide is current best practices developed over the past 3 years by nearly a dozen of the world's leading internet companies, was created in partnership between Suicide Awareness Voice of Education and Facebook.  "Each of these companies has created amazing technology that has changed our world," said Dr. Dan Reidenberg, Executive Director of SAVE.  "Today we are excited to release the best practices for suicide prevention and social media as part of the effort to reduce suicide globally."  The tool was designed to be a living document that can be added to and modified as technology advances and research is conducted in the field.

"The community can always play a unique role in supporting someone who needs help, whether it's online or off," said Joe Sullivan, Facebook's Chief Security Officer. "We've learned a lot about the power of community when it comes to suicide prevention, and are proud to work with mental health experts and other companies to share these lessons and save lives."

The new guide follows the collaboration between participants who met in person, reviewed over 200 existing suicide prevention research articles and conducted additional expert review and discussions in developing the recommendations.  Participants included officials from Google, YouTube, Microsoft, Tumbler, Twitter, Wordpress, Yahoo, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the Suicide Research Unit—Medical University of Vienna, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The guide was designed for use by those in the technology/online industry as well as suicide prevention organizations and agencies that might have websites, blogs with response options for readers, as well as other industries such as news organizations that might allow for user generated content on their website.  An example of how 3 different types of users might implement these best practices:

Online company with user generated content

Nonprofit suicide prevention agency

Newspaper with user generated content

Company wants a basic standard for suicidal content

Agency has a website and Facebook page; they would like standards for both

Company wants to develop a policy for user generated comments

They could create:

A basic FAQ section on suicide

A basic policy on how they respond to suicide content

At least one national referral resource for users

They could create:

A policy for sharing/posting and responding to suicidal content (that includes transparency to users, adherence to safe and effective messaging standards, etc.)

A procedure for responding to user generated content

Lists of resources for local and national assistance

They could create:

A policy on user generated feedback

Provide transparency regarding their policy on user feedback

Have a system for monitoring user generated comments (automated or live)

A statement listed after the story and before the user comment section on the policy

Please check out Responding to a Cry for Help:  Best Practices for Online Technologies by going to

About SAVE
SAVE's mission is to prevent suicide through public awareness and education, reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and serve as a resource to those touched by suicide. 

Learn more about online safety for suicidal content at

Daniel Reidenberg, PsyD

SOURCE SAVE - Suicide Awareness Voices of Education