September 10, 2015 is World Suicide Prevention Day – so we thought we should talk about how and who we should go to when we are looking for support online.
Who do you turn to when you are going through something tough? I mean, really tough, like – I feel like the world is ending – tough? I do have friends and family that I trust, but sometimes I feel like I just need more or different kind of support.
Lots of us these days find people to connect with online. And it’s pretty cool. You can literally type your feelings into Google or search a hashtag on Instagram and instantly get connected with thousands of people who say that they feel exactly the way you do. You can share your problems anonymously and others can share back. They can make you feel understood, heard, and even hopeful. Pretty great, right? It totally is when you are talking about fashion, your pet, sports or any other interests you might have.
BUT when it comes to the tough stuff (like depression, suicide and self-harm) there are two pretty big things we need to consider: reliability and relationships.
(1) Reliability. A huge problem with anonymous posts and information about mental health is that we just can’t trust it! If you think about it, libraries are kind of like the internet. Libraries have tons of books – some of them are filled with facts (biographies, encyclopedias) but others are fiction (even if the story is great – it just isn’t true)! This can totally (and often does) happen online, some stuff is great and totally helpful, but some things are awful and just plain false. The sweet thing about the library is that there is a librarian (aka a real person!) to guide you to the right section to help you find what you are looking for. The internet just doesn’t have someone like that.
(2) Relationships. Online forums or social media hashtags are awesome because they help people who understand each other super well to connect. But that can also be their biggest problem. Because you only hear from people with the same ideas and the same attitudes as you, this can actually encourage or even normalize some really harmful stuff.
When it comes to mental health, these groups can actually feed your hurtful patterns or thoughts instead of trying to help you get better. So you may end up trusting people online with some pretty scary stuff that they don’t have the ability, skills or desire to help you with. Not because they aren’t great people, but because they probably also have a lot to deal with themselves.
So if anonymous online forums or following certain hashtags aren’t the answer to preventing suicide, what is?
Here at Girlville, we would love to be your online librarian – especially when it comes to tough stuff. We can help by directing you to awesome facts and sites that will help and not hurt. One really cool site is www.take5tosavelives.org. This year they are giving up tons of helpful info on how to prevent suicide and it will only take 5 minutes out of your day to get involved! The site will teach you the warning signs of suicide, invite you join the global movement to prevent suicide, ask you to spread the word, help you know what to do when someone is struggling and assist you in getting help from resources in your community.
Check it out today and join the movement to help prevent suicide at www.take5tosavelives.org.
Source: Take 5 to Save Lives