World Suicide Prevention Day: How Facebook, Twitter and Tiktok are implementing suicide prevention interventions

September 14, 2019 4:32 PM

Figures released by WHO based on 2016 data suggests that India has the highest suicide rate in all of South-East Asia.

World Suicide Prevention DayVarious social media sites and apps are joining efforts to implement suicide prevention interventions that can be effective.

By Pooja Priyamvada

September is commemorated as Suicide Prevention Awareness month globally and September 10th in particular marked as the World Suicide Prevention Day. According to figures released by WHO based on 2016 data India has the highest suicide rate in all of South-East Asia.

In this report released just a day ahead of the World Suicide Prevention Day India’s suicide rate at 16.5 suicides per 100,000 people was the highest on the south-east Asian region, followed by Sri Lanka and Thailand. India also stood third in figures pertaining to highest female suicide rate. Suicide, according to the WHO, is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds, road injury being the first there.

Realising that suicide is essentially a preventable cause of death, various social media sites and apps are joining efforts to implement suicide prevention interventions that can be effective, as their user audiences majorly fall into the most vulnerable age-groups here.

In the light of all this Facebook is now tightening its policies around posts about self-harm, suicide and eating disorder content. Also, Facebook will be hiring a new Safety Policy Manager to advise in these aspects.

READ: Stressed out at your workplace? Here are effective ways for employees to manage their mental health

One major thrust area is to explore evolving ways to improve support for the Facebook community regarding mental health. Some of the content of this nature is already being displayed covered by a sensitivity screen to prevent any unintended triggers and copycat behaviour. Facebook also claims that though they pull down objectionable mental health content they continue to send resources to people making self-harm posts or posting eating disorder related content.

In order to mark World Suicide Prevention Day this year, Twitter just came up with a new emoji whenever people tweet with the hashtags related to it like #WorldSuicidePreventionDay #SuicidePrevention, #WSPD and #WSPD2019. This emoji will keep appearing on any such posts from September 10 to October 30.

The immensely popular among youth short video-sharing app TikTok has also joined hands with a few collaborators for its suicide prevention campaign called #YourLifeMatters. It is a campaign aimed to spread awareness around the importance of mental health and bringing down suicide rates in India.

(The author is a translator, social media expert and an avid blogger on issues related to mental health. Views expressed are the author’s own.)

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