Facebook and The Trevor Project hope to help prevent LGBTQ youth suicides

Facebook has been working to make users feel safer on the platform for years, and in its latest effort to enhance the online community, the social media platform partnered with The Trevor Project, an organization dedicated to suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth.

On Tuesday in the middle of Mental Health Awareness month Facebook announced that users will be able to connect with mental health resourcesfromThe Trevor Project right from their direct messages. The project rolls out over the next few months.

According to The Trevor Project’s website, the rate of suicide attempts is “four times greater for LGB youth and two times greater for questioning youth than that of straight youth,” so it’s clear how helpful access to a supportive chat bot could be. And though The Trevor Project is aimed at helping suicide prevention in young people, the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 40 percent of transgender adult respondents reportedly made a suicide attempt during their lives, so Facebook users of all ages could certainly benefit from the helpful resource.

The messenger crisis support will also expand awareness to other areas of the mental heath community with the help of participating organizations likeCrisis Text Line, the National Eating Disorder Association, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The social media site recently received a great deal of backlash surrounding the spread of live-streamed suicide videos and earlier this month after a violent video of a Cleveland man shooting and killing a 74-year-old man was posted to the site founder Mark Zuckerberg admitted more human intervention is necessary on the site to ensure the safety of users.

The site also collaborated with mental health organizations back in 2016 to launch tools and resources aimed at supporting the mental health community. Users now have easily accessible support groups along with the ability to report concerning posts related to self-injury or suicide directly to Facebook.

Back in March the site was even testing a pattern recognition system that would use AI to identify posts that include certain keywords pertaining to suicidal thoughts.

Studies have shown that excessive social media us could increase levels of depression, so the more resources the better.

If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For international resources, this list is a good place to start.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/17/facebook-lgbtq-trevor-project/

How to protect yourself when live video shows a suicide

Image: Shutterstock / Pressmaster

The thrill of social media is often the possibility of surprise. It’s fun to log on and see which viral videos, political rants, news stories, and baby pictures your friends and family have shared.

What we don’t expect is to see someone die. Watching a suicide attempt (or murder) in real time is not part of the bargain we’ve made to stay connected with the world. And yet it happens. Earlier this week, a Thai man killed his infant daughter and himself on Facebook Live. The video appeared on both Facebook and YouTube before being taken down by the companies.

While such incidents are rare, even news coverage of them can make us feel sad or angry. For some people, learning explicit details about these tragedies may lead to suicidal thoughts or behavior. We know this from years of research, but the phenomenon of broadcasting suicide via live video is so new that even experts in suicide prevention are grappling with how to understand its emotional impact.

“This whole medium has not existed long enough for us to have a good understanding of how it might be different from what you might see in the newspaper or on a TV show,” says Victor Schwartz, chief medical officer of The Jed Foundation, a suicide prevention nonprofit.

“Theres nothing more lurid than seeing something like this in real time.”

He suspects, however, that witnessing a suicide on social media can be as bad or even worse for our emotional health as encountering graphic details in the media: “Theres nothing more lurid than seeing something like this in real time.”

That violence could be overwhelming and deeply disturbing, particularly for people who are at risk for or already experience anxiety or depression, or are struggling with their own suicidal impulses.

To ease that anguish, Schwartz recommends first walking away from its source. “If you were eating or drinking something that tasted [bad], you would stop,” he says. “This is the same thing we cant control what [we see] online, but you can spit it out.”

Once you’ve got some distance, find ways to make that space bigger. Try talking to a supportive, trusted friend about the emotions you felt after watching or hearing about the suicide. Sit down with a TV show that makes you laugh, take a walk or run, or do something else that gives you joy. Essentially, says Schwartz, find ways to distract yourself.

Taking action is important too. If you see a suicide attempt take place on a social media platform, report it to the company. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Snapchat all provide users a way to report suicidal behavior or content, and Schwartz says following those guidelines can make someone feel less helpless. (If someone appears to be in immediate danger, you can also contact local law enforcement or 911.) Finally, he urges people experiencing relentless despair or suicidal thoughts to discuss their feelings, seek profession help, or call or text a hotline.

Testing how suicide on live video affects people would be unethical, which is partly why we don’t know its consequences for our emotional health. Yet Madelyn Gould, a professor of epidemiology in psychiatry at Columbia University who specializes in suicide prevention research, believes the existing evidence on the “contagion effect” of suicide is robust enough to suggest that it could harm certain people.

Most of these studies look retrospectively at whether the suicide rate spikes after a high-profile incident and show there appears to be some association between media reports and increases in the suicide rate. Those most affected are likely to be emotionally vulnerable people who can identify with the person who died. So geography, gender, age, and other factors can make a difference in how someone perceives the death, whether it relates to their own life, and how it could influence their frame of mind.

Gould is less worried that we lack research on the impact of seeing a suicide on live video and more concerned that the norms around suicide may be changing to the point where people see it as a widespread, acceptable outcome.

Talking about suicide requires a careful balance of acknowledging how and why it happens while avoiding making it seem inevitable, glamorous, or the best solution to ending one’s pain. That’s why she and other prevention experts were so alarmed by the vivid portrayal of suicide in the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, in which the main female character meticulously plans her suicide almost as a means of revenge against those who bullied and assaulted her.

“Its ok to talk about your fears or concerns about what youve seen or felt.”

Gould, among other advocates, wants to focus more time on encouraging healthy conversations about self-harm, including coping strategies, how to get help, and spreading the knowledge that many people who have suicidal thoughts or attempt suicide can still lead happy lives.

These are all things to focus on the next time a suicide airs live on social media. And don’t be afraid to express what it meant to encounter that imagery or reporting or to listen to someone else trying to make sense of that.

“Its O.K. to talk about your fears or concerns about what youve seen or felt,” says Schwartz.

If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, text the Crisis Text Lineat 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Here is a listof international resources.

WATCH: Break free from social media with this minimal phone

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/04/30/dealing-with-emotions-of-live-video-suicide/

What happens after you ghost someone? They come back to haunt your Snapchat.

Social media is now spookier than ever.
Image: ambar del moral/mashable

Do you have lost loves lurking on your Instagram feed? Do you feel a spooky shiver whenever you use Snapchat? Youre probably being haunted.

Yes, haunted. Basically it’s when someone youve ended things with decides to reassert themselves into your fragile mind by watching your Instagram or Snapchat stories or liking your social media posts.

As with actual ghosts, they usually appear out of nowhere often they don’t even follow you officially. And seeing that notification pop up on your phone gives you a fright or, worse, brings up all the bad feelings you’ve tried to leave behind.

To be clear, you don’t have to have ghosted or been ghosted by someone in order for them to haunt you. Even a former mate with whom you had a proper wrenching goodbye can pop up months or even years later to remind you of their existence.

Haunting is the newest new term for a longstanding dating phenomenon, and it’s the logical followup to our recent plague of ghosting. Modern romance is really moving into a scary place, y’all.

Its not entirely new, obviously. Former lovers have been finding ways to irritate and stalk us from the beyond for as long as there have been people, and the term itself has been around since at least last summer.

It’s really starting to take hold though, even getting a shout out in Cosmo. This rise has almost certainly been fueled by the fact that Instagram and Facebook stories now provide yet another realm for these otherworldly presences to rattle around in.

Fittingly, it can be very hard to exercise these dating demons once they’ve found you. You’ll only out yourself by pinging them and demanding to know why they’re hanging around in your social media space.

Boooo!

Image: giphy

There’s always delete your account, but that’s a bit like burning down the house to get rid of the ghost it’ll never work. For now that leaves you with blocking them, an imperfect but effective solution, or making peace with the ghost’s occasional presence.

We can only hope that someday there will be a way to burn virtual sage and exorcise these spirits from our feeds. Oh, right, there already is. It’s called blocking.

WATCH: Lady Gaga FaceTimed with Prince William to discuss a very important issue

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/04/20/haunting-dating-ghosting/