Don't brush off talk of suicide on social media: SOS

Safer to take it that user is not really seeking attention but in need for help, say Samaritans

Since 2016, at-risk users of Instagram have been directed to local community helplines when they search for hashtags of keywords such as "suicide", "self harm" or "depression".
Since 2016, at-risk users of Instagram have been directed to local community helplines when they search for hashtags of keywords such as "suicide", "self harm" or "depression".ST PHOTO: ROSALIND ANG

While suicidal thoughts expressed on social media might be brushed off as an attempt to seek attention, they could signal a real need for support, said the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) in response to the recent controversy surrounding photo-sharing app Instagram.

The social-media platform with approximately one billion monthly active users hit the headlines for the wrong reasons earlier this week when a teenage girl in Malaysia reportedly jumped off a building after she polled her followers on the app if she should live or die. The majority - 69 per cent - had voted for "death".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2019, with the headline 'Don't brush off talk of suicide on social media: SOS '. Print Edition | Subscribe