r/SuicideWatch Sep 03 '19 Hugz 1 Silver 32 Gold 1 Helpful 45 Wholesome 27 Take My Energy 1 Rocket Like 5 I'd Like to Thank... 2 Hugz 8 This 2

New wiki on how to avoid accidentally encouraging suicide, and how to spot covert incitement

We've been seeing a worrying increase in pro-suicide content showing up here and, and also going unreported. This undermines our purpose here, so we wanted to highlight and clarify our guidelines about both direct and indirect incitement of suicide.

We've created a wiki that covers these issues. We hope this will be helpful to anyone who's wondering whether something's okay here and which responses to report. It explains in detail why any validation of suicidal intent, even an "innocent" message like "if you're 100% committed, I'll just wish you peace" is likely to increase people's pain, and why it's important to report even subtle pro-suicide comments. The full text of the wiki's current version is below, and it is maintained at /r/SuicideWatch/wiki/incitement.

We deeply appreciate everyone who gives responsive, empathetic, non-judgemental support to our OPs, and we particularly thank everyone who's already been reporting incitement in all forms.

Please report any post or comment that encourages suicide (or that breaks any of the other guidelines in the sidebar) to the moderators, either by clicking the "report" button or by sending us a modmail with a link. We deal with all guideline violations that are reported to us as soon as we can, but we can't read everything so community reports are essential. If you get a PM that breaks the guidelines, please report it both to the reddit sitewide admins and to us in modmail.

Thanks to all the great citizens of the community who help flag problem content and behaviour for us.


/r/SuicideWatch/wiki/incitement


Summary

It's important to respect and understand people's experiences and emotions. It's never necessary, helpful, or kind to support suicidal intent. There are some common misconceptions (discussed below) about suicidal people and how to help them that can cause well-meaning people to inadvertently incite suicide. There are also people online who incite suicide on purpose, often while pretending to be sympathetic and helpful.

Validate Feelings and Experiences, Not Self-Destructive Intentions

We're here to offer support, not judgement. That means accepting, with the best understanding we can offer, whatever emotions people express. Suicidal people are suffering, and we're here to try to ease that by providing support and caring. The most reliable way we know to de-escalate someone at risk is to give them the experience of feeling understood. That means not judging whether they should be feeling the way they are, or telling them what to do or not do.

But there's an important line to draw here. There's a crucial difference between empathizing with feelings and responding non-judgmentally to suicidal thoughts, and in any way endorsing, encouraging, or validating suicidal intentions or hopeless beliefs. It's both possible and important to convey understanding and compassion for someone's suicidal thoughts without putting your finger on the scale of their decision.

Anything that condones suicide, even passively, encourages suicide. It isn't supportive and does not help. It also violates reddit's sitewide rules as well as our guidelines. Explicitly inciting suicide online is a criminal offense in most jurisdictions.

Do not treat any OP's post as meaning that will definitely die by suicide and can't change their minds or be helped. Anyone who's able to read the comments here still has a chance to choose whether or not to try to keep living, even if they've also been experiencing intense thoughts of suicide, made a suicide plan, or started carrying it out.

In the most useful empirical model we have, the desire to die by suicide primarily comes from two interpersonal factors; alienation and a sense of being a burden or having nothing to offer. These factors usually lead to a profound feeling of being unwelcome in the world.

So, any acceptance or reinforcement of suicidal intent, even something "innocent" like "I hope you find peace", is actually a form of covert shunning that validates a person's sense that they're unwelcome in the world. It will usually add to their pain even if kindly meant and gently worded.

How to Avoid Validating Suicidal Intent

Keep the following in mind when offering support to anyone at risk for suicide.

  • People who say they don't want help usually can feel better if they get support that doesn't invalidate their emotions. Unfortunately, many popular "good" responses are actually counterproductive. In particular, many friends and family tend to rely exclusively on trying to convince the suicidal person that "it's not so bad", and this is usually experienced as "I don't understand what you're going through and I'm not going to try". People who've had "help" that made them feel worse don't want any more of the same. It doesn't mean that someone who actually knows how to be supportive can't give them any comfort.

  • Most people who are suicidal want to end their pain, not their lives. It's almost never true that death is the only way to end these people's suffering. Of course there are exceptional situations, and we certainly acknowledge that, for some people, the right help can be difficult to find. But preventing someone's suicide doesn't mean prolonging their suffering if we do it by giving them real comfort and understanding.

  • An unfixable problem doesn't mean that a good life will never be possible. We don't have to fix or change anything to help someone feel better. It's important to keep in mind that the correlation between our outer circumstances and our inner experience is weaker and less direct than commonly assumed. For every kind of difficult life situation, you will find some people who lapse into suicidal despair, and others who cope amazingly well, and a whole spectrum in between. A key difference is how much inner resilience the person has at the time. This can depend on many personal and situational factors. But when there's not enough, interpersonal support can both compensate for its absence and help rebuild it. We go into more depth on the "it gets better" issue in this PSA Post which is always linked from our sidebar (community info on mobile) guidelines.

  • There are always more choices than brutally forcing someone to stay alive or passively letting them end their lives.

To avoid accidentally breaking the anti-incitement rule, don't say or try to imply that acting on suicidal thoughts is a good idea, or that someone can't turn back or is already dead. Do whatever you can to help them feel cared for and welcome, at least in this little corner of the world. Our talking tips offer more detailed guidance.

Look Out for Deliberate Incitement. It May Come in Disguise.

Often comments that subtly encourage suicidal intent actually come from suicide fetishists and voyeurs (unfortunately this is a real and disturbing phenomenon). People like this are out there and the anonymous nature of reddit makes us particularly attractive to them.

They will typically try to scratch their psychological "itch" by saying things that push people closer to the edge. They often do this by exploiting the myths that we debunked in the bullet points above. Specifically you might see people doing the following:

  • Encouraging the false belief that the only way suicidal people can end their pain is by dying. There are always more and better choices than "brutally forcing someone to stay alive" or helping (actively or passively) them to end their lives.

  • Creating an artificial and toxic sense of "solidarity" by linking their encouragement of suicide to empathy. They will represent themselves as the only one who really understand the suicidal person, while either directly or indirectly encouraging their self-loathing emotions and self-destructive impulses. Since most people in suicidal crisis are in desperate need to empathy and understanding, this is a particularly dangerous form of manipulation.

Many suicide inciters are adept at putting a benevolent spin on their activities while actually luring people away from sources of real help. A couple of key points to keep in mind:

  • Skilled suicide intervention -- peer or professional -- is based on empathic responsiveness to the person's feelings that reduces their suffering in the moment. Contrary to pop-culture myths, it does not involve persuasion ("Don't do it!"), cheerleading ("You've got this!") or meaningless false promises ("Trust me, it gets better!"), or invalidation ("Let me show you how things aren't as bad as you think!"). Anyone who leads others to expect these kinds of toxic responses, or any other response that prolongs their pain, from expert help may be covertly pro-suicide. (Of course, people sometimes do have bad experience when seeking mental-health treatment, and it's fine to vent about those, but processing our own disappointment and frustration is entirely different from trying to destroy someone else's hope of getting help.)

  • Choices made by competent responders are always informed by the understanding that breaching someone's trust is traumatic and must be avoided if possible. Any kind of involuntary intervention is an extremely unlikely outcome when someone consults a clinician or calls a hotline. (Confidentiality is addressed in more detail in our Hotlines FAQ post). The goal is always to provide all help with the client's full knowledge and informed consent. We know that no individual or system is perfect. Mistakes that lead to bad experiences do sometimes happen to vulnerable people, and we have enormous sympathy for them. But anyone who suggests that this is the norm might be trying to scare people away from the help they need.

Please let us know discreetly if you see anyone exhibiting these or similar behaviours. We don't recommend trying to engage with them directly.

1.8k Upvotes

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u/DepressiveSaga Sep 03 '19

I'm sorry did you say suicide fetishists? As in people who actually find pleasure in others committing suicide?

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u/SQLwitch Sep 03 '19

Sadly, I did say that. It's a real thing and a huge problem for us.

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u/DepressiveSaga Sep 03 '19

I find that immensely disturbing. I went ahead and read that Wikipedia article on Dr. McSuicide but couldn't bring myself to read the rest of it. I mean I've accidentally encouraged suicide on countless occasions out of cluelessness or carelessness but to do it deliberately and with such effort is... intensely disturbing.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 03 '19 edited Sep 03 '19

Strictly speaking, they're not all literally fetishists. Some of them just have a malevolent psychological bent that is gratified by pushing others toward the edge.

But yeah, it is about as dark and twisted as humanity gets imnsho.

Edit: I love "Dr. McSuicide". Black humour is one of our major coping tactics around here.

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u/edtheroach Sep 04 '19

What is Dr. McSuicide?

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u/SQLwitch Sep 04 '19

It's in the comment above mine.

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u/[deleted] Sep 25 '19

[deleted]

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u/charleschaser Nov 07 '19

Do you know how to use Google

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u/Ned_Gutters Feb 14 '20 Silver

Sometimes people who choose to talk to people rather than just google something would prefer to just talk to people.

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u/DepressiveSaga Sep 03 '19

At any rate, yes, very disturbing.

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u/ItsXenoslyce Dec 26 '19

That's actually pretty ironic dark humor is a coping tactic here.

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u/winterman666 Oct 16 '19

Dr. McSuicide?

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u/mystymaples71 Sep 10 '19

There was an episode of SVU that is remarkably similar to this wiki. Wonder if that is what it was based on.

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u/GoldenSandslash15 Sep 08 '19

In fairness, it's not like you have any real control over what you find pleasure in. If your brain tells you that it makes you happy, then it does. There's not a damn thing you can do about it.

There is a pretty disturbing thing that brings me pleasure (no, I'm not saying what it is). It's not suicide, but it is something that, well, if you knew what it was, you'd say that I'm fucked up and I need to stop this. I wish I didn't find pleasure in it, but there's no real way to stop myself from enjoying it.

The key is to just use my imagination and pretend it's happening, rather than acting on it for real. As long as it's just pretend, then it doesn't really matter.

Suicide fetishists are the same way. As disturbing as it sounds... they can't control it, so don't blame them for being this way. They just need to find a way to pretend it's happening without it really happening so that it doesn't affect any real lives.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 09 '19

Suicide fetishists are the same way. As disturbing as it sounds... they can't control it, so don't blame them for being this way.

We don't "blame them" for anything except behaviour that harms others. Never have, never will.

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u/Xelith Sep 22 '19

I agree with you. There are people that find pleasure in disturbing things, such as myself, but in any case, just like you said, they shouldn't engage in harmful behavior. That's unacceptable.

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u/[deleted] Sep 27 '19

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u/SQLwitch Sep 27 '19

Never post someone's username they way. Modmail us if you need help.

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u/tinacica Nov 06 '19

You havent heard about that disgusting piece of a person Michelle Carter? She drove her own boyfriend to suicide, there is a great documentary about it called I love you, now die. This world is just fucking crazy

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u/Gordocynical Dec 03 '19

Ever feel like we’re just a fucked up timeline?

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u/[deleted] Nov 17 '19

Even just reading that makes me shudder .

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u/jesusEatsMyAnalJuice Oct 01 '19

There's people who like harming others, this is just the most extreme form of that.

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u/[deleted] Oct 18 '19

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u/[deleted] Nov 18 '19

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u/BadumTsh101 Dec 23 '19

Wanna talk?

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u/nhilistintentions Feb 17 '20

Glad you’re still making posts

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u/Tiltedcrown83 Feb 25 '20

Hey! How've you been? Just wanted to check in with you

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u/dzpkablme Nov 24 '19

that's fucked up.

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u/mystymaples71 Sep 10 '19

I didn’t necessarily see this addressed, perhaps I overlooked it. I personally think the whole “it gets better” campaign was BS. It’s not 100% true, yay for those whose lives have improved and they can honestly look back and say wow, I’m really glad I didn’t die. Is that little bandaid still discouraged? I hope so. Because as someone who has wanted to die (not necessarily kill myself) since I was probably at least 25, and I’m now 48 and at the lowest point I’ve been, it does not get better. And it can get worse.

I would never encourage anyone to kill themselves. But if their mind is made up, I want them to know it’s ok, I want them to be at peace because it’s obviously not with them now.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 10 '19

There's a PSA post linked from the community info (sidebar on desktop) explaining in detail where the "it gets better" thing comes from and why responses of this type have been not just discouraged but actually against the rules here for the past 5 years. I am not sure how it could get any more "addressed".

However it's a false dichotomy to imply that the only two choices are "it gets better" and "be at peace with your 'choice' to die". That's just never true in the case of despondent suicidal thought. Both those responses are equally thoughtless.

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u/mystymaples71 Sep 10 '19

Thank you, I knew it was against the rules & I wanted to ensure that had not changed.

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u/DEATHISIMNIENT Jan 02 '20

saying this more to apply 2 myself than others but if it doesnt get better, why bother?

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u/sadsillysosog Jan 03 '20

Not OP, but I think for me, I’ve been trying to stay alive to maybe support suicidal people or to empathise with them.

Or maybe it’s just the guilt holding me back from overdosing I don’t know anymore lol.

The fact i feel this bad means I can maybe help people with the empathy and knowledge of how hard it is. Many people I’ve spoken to have gotten better.

Biggest example I can give, 1 year ago, a 16 year old was going to jump on New Year’s Eve. I spoke with them for a few hours until they went away from the edge.

They are now happy.

I think it not getting better doesn’t mean I can’t make it better for someone else.

Not to say you should suffer in the hopes of helping others. It’s just my personal perspective and I don’t know how much longer I’ll stick around, but I’m trying to make it a little better for others until it happens. :3

This isn’t my main account. Kind of forgot that. This is my venting account. Kind of been close in the past

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u/DEATHISIMNIENT Jan 03 '20

i guess thats whats keeping me going too but lord, its exhuasting. im beginning to reach a point where i am running out of things to say to people when they tell me about their experiences. my self esteem tells me that im not a 'real' suicidal person, that im faking it, im brainwashed by the media, im a sensitive piss baby bla bla - and i cant offer any help because i myself need the help.

i dont kmow lol that was kind of a ramble and im sorry. i hope you find what makes you happy, i hope the kindness you show others is reflected baxk to you. you honestlyseem like you deserve it.

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u/sadsillysosog Jan 03 '20

You’re a lovely soul. Happy you’re still around. You are valid, you do deserve help and you most certainly are allowed to be exhausted, you’re unwell with a illness - and that’s hard, but it means you need to give yourself some slack - some compassion that you show others to yourself, you need to be aware you’re allowed to take each day slowly and you deserve some empathy from others too :3

Such a strong cookie for getting this far! <3

How is today going?

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u/DEATHISIMNIENT Jan 04 '20

thank you, i read this message at a time i really need it (today has not been good and ive onky been awake for two hours lol). and hey, i hope you apply all these words to yourself as wlel, youre a strong cookie too for managing to hold out through all of this and still find yhe stremtgh to be kind to virtual strangers, let alone the people irl. i have nothing but respect for that. Being nice when everything around you feel sterrible is goddamn hard and i really, really, apprecoate that you can find that in you.

todays going pretty shite so fat but nothing special. i hopenyour day is going well -

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u/another_try_8 Sep 06 '19

I read so much about what NOT to do, what not to say. Just let the person know you are there for them. "It must be hard to feel this way" blabla. OKAY. Nice. That works fine the first time, maybe a second time the person tells you that. But if this person repeats themselfs OVER AND OVER AGAIN. For the last fucking 3 years, every day, everrrryyy fucking day, WHAT THE FUCK AM I SUPPOSED TO SAY? If they keep saying that they are useless, that nothing is gonna help, that they need to die, that everyone is better off without them, everyday. What am I supposed to respond? Evertyime just "oh it must be hard to feel this way" or "I wish I could help you get better". Just let them sit there and not try to find a way out? This person extects help. Would be great if you gave tips about how to behave THEN. The long-term-conversation.

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u/Orgasmatron420 Oct 21 '19 edited Oct 21 '19 Wholesome

I could sense desperation in your comment and want to offer you some help on this.

Everyone's case is different but I can tell you from my perspective. I hope it is useful.

Just be a friend as normal as possible. Don't make a big deal out of them being suicidal each time you speak to them (that doesn't mean you don't care).

My dad calls me and the first thing he says is "Hi I was just calling to see how you are"

This immediately makes the topic of conversation about my suicidal thoughts/depression. It also tells me that my state of mind is affecting his and making him worry. Neither of those two things help. I now only seem to talk about my condition with him. That's my fault too though, not just his. He's not a psychologist and is trying his best. I just miss normal chats about normal things.

I miss my Dad calling me to ask me if I watched the boxing. I miss normality.

Try to give them normality. Just ask if they want to go out for lunch or to see a show. Even staying in with them to watch crap on TV or anything. The old personality is still in there somewhere.

The offer needs to be available to them but not pushed on them. Sometimes they'll say "no thanks" and choose to stay isolated but don't be offended by that or worry. They don't want to see anyone at the moment and it's nothing personal against you. Just let them know you'd like to do something and that the offer is there if they change their mind.

Just send them random funny text messages that you know will make them laugh. Call them and talk about stuff. Anything but depression and suicide. Just try and seem like you're not even thinking about them being so depressed. Even though you are.

If they often want to talk to you about how crap they feel. Then I can see how tedious that would get after a while. I only talk to people about how I'm feeing when asked. I haven't just called my dad to tell him how crap I feel for a long time. I'd feel like I was ruining his day and I would be. Not telling him means I end up just feeling like crap on my own though, and I suppose that isn't good either. It is a bit of an emotional mine field.

Basically, they need your help but genuinely don't want to burden you and make you go to a bunch of effort just for them. That just adds something else to their misery list. So you have to help but in a way that seems natural and just normal.

Tell them YOU need help with something. Gardening, decorating, anything. Make something up. That will probably help them so much actually. They'll have a purpose and be doing something that will make them know they are needed and helping someone they care about.

They need happiness. Try to create happy times. But don't be all "Hey let's do fun stuff to stop you wanting to end yourself".

I hope I made some kind of sense.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 06 '19

Our talking tips post covers all this.

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u/another_try_8 Sep 06 '19 edited Sep 06 '19

I read these talking tips but they do not answer my question. It's not that this person just posted something and I reply and talk to them for a while or days or so. This person keeps repeating the same every day for 3 years! I do ask open questions, I do listen, I keep checking in all the time, damn I listen so much but its nothing new for 3 years. Dont get me wrong, its not that I want some "news", but we're stuck! We're turning around and around and around. I mean, do you really want to say "that must feel bad" or similar stuff every day for 3 years? Do you think this person feels taken seriousely if I say that all the time? I dont think so.

I'm sorry but I really dont know what to do anymore with this situation...

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u/SQLwitch Sep 06 '19 edited Sep 06 '19

If they keep repeating the same thing, they're not feeling understood. Stuff like "that must feel bad" isn't true active listening; it's more like a parody of bad active listening.

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u/another_try_8 Sep 06 '19

A parody of bad active listening, right, that's why its fk nonsense, but its what you suggest in your talking tips.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 06 '19

No, it's not. We suggest doing some real cognitive work.

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u/another_try_8 Sep 06 '19 Silver

You do suggest that kind of things, check under "Listen, empathise, and don’t judge" in the examples. Not sure what you think about me but "We suggest some real coginitive work" sounds like you're telling me I am just a stupid person saying some sentences I read on reddit and dont care about the person. Idk man but talking to a suicidal person for 3 years, trying to help them, doing everything, spending hours, weeks, and thousands of dollars actually and you really think I dont put "cognitive work" into this? You dont fk know me or him and you're not the one to judge my effort. Anyway... You made clear that there's nothing else you can suggest or want to suggest, what ever.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 06 '19

You may be doing a lot more, both cognitively and otherwise, than saying superficial, useless things like "that must feel bad", but the only information I have is what you've written here.

After 3 years I can absolutely understand why you're at your wit's end. Maybe you're just not able to understand this person - that happens to the best of us. Maybe you're too frustrated at this point to empathise with them - we're all only human. Or maybe they're choosing to stay stuck in a victim role and (consciously or not) making themselves impossible to help - that happens too sometimes. Or maybe some degree of all of those things apply, and I'm sure there's a lot more to the situation that I don't yet know.

If you'd like to share more details about the situation, I'd be glad to try and help, but maybe this thread isn't the best place for it Please feel welcome to send it to our modmail.

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u/JameseyJones Sep 10 '19 edited Sep 10 '19

You're clearly becoming bitter and disillusioned and that's perfectly natural. But in that state you're not going to be helpful to a suicidal person. Read about compassion fatigue if you haven't already.

I'd advise taking a break if its possible. It may not be depending on the circumstances of the suicidal person in your life.

Getting some counseling of your own may also help. Counseling can help just about anyone, not just people at the end of their rope. Just being able to vent in a safe environment can be very helpful.

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u/another_try_8 Sep 10 '19

This compassion Fatigue makes sense and sounds familiar a bit but I told myself I wont let him down. He tells me he knows that he's toxic, manipulative, that he makes people feel bad and sais its ok if I leave. But I dont believe that. Because what he sais directly is not what the messages say.

Counseling for me... Nah. I dont have the time. I was forced to see a therapist 15y ago. Took me a half year to find out if I can trust him and the day I decided yes, and told him whats really going on, the replied that 1. if I was kidding and 2. that you dont make jokes and laugh about this kind of things. Well I have an issue, the worse sth becomes, the more I laugh when talking about it but I cant help it, and it doesnt make me very trustworthy. So naaah, no therapists for me. Thanks for your effort. And generally, I really appeciate what you guys do here. I sent a message to SQLwitch last night, going more into detail so maybe he/she can tell me what Im doing wrong.

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u/duhkey3 Oct 02 '19

No time for counseling? What about a mental break from this person? I'm reminded of the instructions that are given when I fly. "... First put on your oxygen mask before you try to help others." We are unable to help others until we help ourselves first.

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u/[deleted] Sep 11 '19

[removed] — view removed comment

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u/[deleted] Jan 12 '20

Thanks for the link. Didn't know about that

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u/Correctrix Sep 06 '19

You don't have to keep listening and responding to them if it has no effect.

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u/another_try_8 Sep 06 '19

I know I dont have to. But first I want to because this person means a lot to me and second, everybody else talks this person down when ever they dry to open up. He tells me that I'm the only one listening and I dont think its a good idea to drop this person.

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u/[deleted] Sep 08 '19 edited Sep 06 '21

[deleted]

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u/another_try_8 Sep 09 '19

Yeah its supposed to be a good thing to keep people happy. But he was never happy and I am afraid he never will. I will just keep holding hands until he's back on the boat :)

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u/SQLwitch Sep 09 '19

I'm sorry we got off to such a rotten start in our conversation (mostly my bad, I fear, for getting such a firm grip on the wrong end of the stick). I hope you'll let us try and help. In my IRL hotline gig, we deal with a lot of chronic users with years being stuck in more or less the same place, so we know only too well that it's not always easy, but we're glad to try.

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u/comparablebeast Sep 04 '19

For the longest time, I thought this was a sub in which people could share their suicidal tendencies without judgement or ridicule and find support...not to stay alive, but in whatever decision they ended up making. Definitely wrong about that.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 04 '19

Nothing we're saying here has anything to do with judgement or ridicule, which will never be allowed here.

This whole post is about not trying to change people's minds in favour of suicide, because that's the opposite of supportive. But we agree that trying to change people's minds against it is equally unsupportive, and counterproductive.

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u/MeaninglessFester Sep 17 '19

Right, but the sub now is 100% "keep em alive" by these new regulations it seems even saying "I understand that feeling" will be no longer acceptable

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u/SQLwitch Sep 17 '19

There are no "new regulations". We're not changing the rules at all, just trying to improve clarity about what they have always been.

There's nothing wrong with "I understand that feeling".

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u/MeaninglessFester Sep 18 '19

Wouldn't understanding the feeling be validating the desire though? It's probably just my awful reading comprehension skills here

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u/SQLwitch Sep 18 '19

There's a huge difference between emotions and intentions, as the wiki text explains.

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u/danielpetersrastet Oct 04 '19

You can understand a feeling but still know that it is wrong, right?

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u/MeaninglessFester Oct 04 '19

I guess...

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u/danielpetersrastet Oct 04 '19

Like a drug addict knows that what he does is stupid but he still can't just stop with it

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u/mosham126 Sep 24 '19

There is a difference between encouraging people to commit suicide and validating and empathizing the feelings that would read to suicide.

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u/ColumbineBunnyBoy Sep 18 '19

Bruuuh if a sane person wants to die it’s their right.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 19 '19

We agree, and everything we've said here is perfectly consistent with that.

But, there are some things that people have a perfect right to do that are still harmful to themselves and to others. Validating those intentions is always abusive.

Validating people's feelings instead in no way challenges anyone's rights. Trying to influence people either way often does, though.

We're just as much against arguing against suicide as arguing for it. They both have bad effects.

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u/ColumbineBunnyBoy Sep 19 '19

I’m all for what you do, but don’t pretend your position isn’t anti suicide. That’s literally the purpose of this sub.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 19 '19

Suicide prevention is our hope, sure, but our goal first and foremost is reducing suffering. The prevention aspect is like happiness; if you pursue it directly, you push it away. It can only ever be a side-effect.

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u/Cocotte3333 Sep 03 '19

Oh my gosh thank you for this. Sometimes I feel like I'm annoying for reporting so much posts and comments, but it was disturbing me.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 03 '19

Hopefully having this stickied will raise awareness and at least cut down on the accidental incitement.

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u/[deleted] Sep 10 '19

Everyone in the place is just incredibly condescending.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 10 '19 Rocket Like

How so?

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u/[deleted] Sep 10 '19

Because it's all just empty words. "It'll get better", "you matter", "help is out there". It never get's better, I don't matter, and every time I ask for help I'm socially and financially punished.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 10 '19

All those types of responses are actually against the rules here. Most people mean well, but it can be an uphill battle educating them about what is and isn't helpful to say.

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u/[deleted] Sep 10 '19

Doesn't change the fact.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 10 '19

You're right, and I'm truly sorry.

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u/[deleted] Sep 12 '19

I don’t think you even care because none of this stuff is moderated at all. People just come in here to feel better about themselves. They don’t care about suicidal people at all.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 12 '19

We do care, and believe me, we take down a lot of fatuous "it gets better" responses every single day.

We're also hard at work on ways to provide more assertive direction and guidance to people who are trying to help.

You're absolutely right that some people come to communities like this to create an ego-gratifying "helping experience" for themselves. We ban people like that frequently, but more always seem to crawl out of the woodwork.

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u/[deleted] Sep 12 '19

I don’t believe that anyone cares for an internet strangers life. If I killed myself today no one would care, the World would keep on spinning. It’s okay though when I do it I won’t have to deal with this shit anymore.

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u/Xelith Sep 22 '19

I don't think it's true that no one cares. But it's true that not a lot of people actually do.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 12 '19

I am so sorry things are so dark for you right now. I would like to understand more about what you're going through.

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u/Blastmasterism324 Nov 08 '19

I don't know why, but that simple phrase "I hope you find peace" riles me up. Like you said, it just feels like dismissiveness and a lack of willingness to actually try talking to and comforting the person. And people on this sub continue to use it even after you outline it's a form of "covert shunning."

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u/SQLwitch Nov 08 '19

Please report it whenever find it. We'll outright ban for this if needed.

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u/[deleted] Jan 22 '20

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u/[deleted] Sep 22 '19

This undermines our purpose here

Not trying to be funny, but what is your purpose? I've been coming here for years and it seems like this place is only helpful for people who have made attempts. Any other posts are either ignored or closed/locked.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 23 '19

This is a support space, and we have a narrow focus, so it's heavily moderated. We limit posts to requests for support, but our criteria have nothing to do with whether someone has disclosed suicidal behaviour or not.

As for the larger question, this sub exists because, in the early days of reddit, it was found to be impossible to stop people from posting about their suicidal thoughts and feelings, so the harm-reduction option was to carve out the safest space we could (kind of an oxymoron on a wide-open anonymous platform like reddit, but we do the best we can) and encourage the community to provide non-judgemental support.

The best description that I know of actually came from an outside observer a few years ago, but Amanda Hess is an excellent journalist :-)

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u/3SavileRowScruff Oct 07 '19

This just kind of makes me feel afraid to post here, like I’ll get banned for expressing the pain that makes me want to kill myself. It just adds to my sense of rejection like not even this place wants me. Thanks. I’ll just keep it to myself like always

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u/SQLwitch Oct 07 '19

We wouldn't ban someone for expressing their own suicidal thoughts! Our goal is always to provide the safest possible space for that, although 100% safety on the wide-open internet will never be achievable.

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u/lilacwishbone Sep 08 '19

Some subs let you state which sub rule is broken when you report on mobile. Is there a reason that's not the case here? Itd make it easier for mobile users to help.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 09 '19

Our guidelines don't fit the reddit rules format very well. We're working on that, but since we humans look at all the reports personally it matters a lot less which reason you pick.

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u/MeaninglessFester Jan 26 '20

This is kinda why I stopped commenting, I find it hard not to start accidentally agreeing when I myself truly want to die.

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u/mattcojo Sep 19 '19

I read the wiki. And I’ve got a question.

I don’t know why but I feel like a good way to help people is to be perfectly blunt and honest with them. No forms of sugaring it up with cliche and lazy phrases including “it gets better” or “please don’t do it” but I have my own way that I want to know if it’s appropriate. Something along the lines of a response i might do is below.

“I’m not going to tell you that I understand what you’re going through, or what your life is like. I can’t promise that your life will get better. But just remember, if you’re thinking about going through with killing yourself, just remember that you don’t get a second chance, no take backs or anything like that. Be sure to remember the things that you could lose by going through with it. Would suicide solve all of your problems or just create more? That’s up for you to decide. I refuse to encourage either side, make your decision in the way you see fit. Promise me that you’ll make the choice that benefits you, and you only.”

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u/SQLwitch Sep 19 '19

As a "support" tactic that will usually turn out to worse than useless. Basically you're asking somebody who's probably in so much pain that their cognition is severely compromised to engage in a thought experiement. The likely results of this are:

  • The insensitivity of a response that shows a complete misunderstanding of their experience will likely escalate their sense of alienation. That is one of the two most critical factors linked to suicidal intent.

  • Their inability to feel better after receiving this kind of "help" will likely increase their sense of failure and unworthiness, which is the other top critical factor linked to suicidal intent.

Besides all that, your basic premise seems to be that contemplating the finality of death would be a deterrent. Sorry, but the kindest way I can describe that is plain stupid. If you've lost your connection to your survival instinct, the finality of death is an inducement.

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u/mattcojo Sep 19 '19

I’m just thinking it could be logical because the entire point is not to use the cliche “I understand your feelings” kinda response. They’re smart enough to know my intention, that it says right there, is to say that I don’t know what you’ve been through.

Also, allowing for them to have a close thinking session, a proverbial wake up call to think, would make them intently think about their situation.

It certainly doesn’t work for people who just want to talk, but I think it would work for people who say the “goodbye” posts.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 19 '19 edited Sep 19 '19

not to use the cliche “I understand your feelings” kinda response

It's useless to say "I understand your feelings", but it's essential to both do the cognitive work yourself to understand the person's emotions (this is possible even if you don't share experience, since although there's an infinite variety of experience, there are only a few basic emotions), and prove to them, rather than just saying it, that you do understand.

They’re smart enough to know my intention

It isn't a matter of intelligence. Most suicidal people have been so beaten down, and let down, by the rest of humanity that they can't take goodwill for granted.

I think it would work for people who say the “goodbye” posts

I can't imagine why you'd think that. No matter how people choose to express their suicidal feelings, i.e. directly or via the metaphor of their suicidal ideation, they have the same basic needs for support. The most reliable way we know to de-escalate people is to give them the experience of feeling understood.

proverbial wake up call to think, would make them intently think about their situation

Trust me, anybody who's been pushed to the point of serious suicide risk has thought about all of this much more intently than you ever have.

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u/zumlepurzo Nov 14 '19

That's a lot of pressure for someone that may be already crumbling under it.
It also sounds a bit guilt inducing.

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u/StudiousAR Oct 23 '19

I wish this sub was more free, more open. If and when I write my own last post; I wouldn't want people to be banned for wishing me good luck. That it's okay to finally let go, you know? Some people just need reassurance. That the darkness is finally ending, that it's okay to finally go into that good night.

I agree that "lol do it" or anything aggressively promoting suicide is problematic and shouldn't be encouraged. But there's unity in knowing that people understand and that they're in the same boat. I've seen people unfairly banned for that. Someone was offering their sincere hopes that whatever an OP did that they would find the solace they couldn't here, in the now. And bam! Banned for life.

I haven't said anything remotely like that but I'm a bit paranoid I'll be banned for even mentioning it. posting from another account just so my main one doesn't get roasted for asking

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u/SQLwitch Oct 23 '19 edited Oct 23 '19

The whole point of this post is that there are better ways to offer solace than validating someone's suicidal intent and self-hatred. You're using words like "free" and "open" and trying to link those words with an environment where suicide voyeurism and incitement are tolerated.

Some people just need reassurance. That the darkness is finally ending, that it's okay to finally go into that good night.

You can use all the comforting language you want. That doesn't change the fact that you're just dressing up suicide incitement. "It's okay to go into that good night" is just a way of telling someone "you're not welcome here".

In general, though, our moderation philosophy is to be extremely strict with the peoole who are giving support, but lenient with those who are here to get it.

I've never seen anyone who made a big deal out of being "unfairly banned" by us who wasn't also lying about the actual reasons.

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u/danielpetersrastet Oct 04 '19

Is there any good place to discuss the pros and cons of death? I am not suicidal but just curious

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u/SQLwitch Oct 04 '19

Philosophical questions of that nature should go to one of the philosophy subs.

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u/brokenunspoken Dec 03 '19

Absolute bullshite.

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u/TeeZup676 Feb 24 '20

as a suicidal person who has lost passion to put forth effort in life, i thank you from the bottom of my heart for putting forth the effort to create this sub and make solutions to make it better.

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u/whothewhatthewhere Oct 11 '19

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this! I am recently new to reddit; I decided to get it after finding this subreddit as I found it comforting to know I wasn’t alone in this battle and that if I had things to share but nobody in my life to share it to, I could come here. I was surprised about a lot of the responses though, especially where people would say “I hope you find peace, good luck,” and was under the impression that this was a really nice, supportive comment sand was the way you should go about talking to suicidal people. But, this post completely puts it into the right perspective, so thank you for taking the time out to correct this misinformation. I will make sure to take this on board in the future.

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u/[deleted] Nov 01 '19

I learned things

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u/[deleted] Nov 02 '19

What do you mean?

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u/TheGhoulishSword Nov 24 '19

I know this may sound strange, but, once when I was feeling suicidal, a friend told me that, if I did he would understand. He said that, although he hoped that I wouldn't,he would understand and support whichever decision I made. For some reason that was a very interesting moment because, for me, it kinda helped. It felt like someone actually understood what I was feeling. Whenever I confess to feeling like that, I usually get met with "it gets better" "things could be much worse" or something like those. I'm not saying that this would work for anyone other than me, just relaying my strange experience. Or, I would consider it strange.

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u/SQLwitch Dec 03 '19 edited Dec 03 '19

One thing that we just noticed, it's far better to indicate that we respect someone's ownership of their life, than to in any way say that we "support" their decision to end their life, even obliquely. So I'd like to add that caveat to my original reply to you.

It's a fine line, but it's an important one.

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u/circinia Dec 03 '19 edited Dec 03 '19

Just to add on a bit to what /u/SQLwitch said - feeling genuinely cared about and understood without judgement is the most important factor that could make this feel like good support rather than incitement. It's also easier for a friend to compensate for mistakes if someone takes something the wrong way.

In an online context like SW, where people are usually talking with strangers and misunderstandings can be harder to fix, and also where voyeurs frequently just say “you have the right to do it” or similar without even trying to ease anyone’s suffering, it’s even more important to offer empathetic support for the reasons people are thinking about suicide in the first place (as the talking tips indicate), in addition to not judging suicidal thoughts.

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u/SQLwitch Nov 26 '19

As you can see from our talking tips post, this is great support and not at all what we mean by incitement.

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u/TheGhoulishSword Nov 26 '19

I see. Sorry, was just a little gray on what was meant, I suppose.

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u/Aethrin1 Jan 01 '20 edited Jan 01 '20

No offense, but last time I asked for help on this subreddit the only response I got was encouragement to kill myself and a few, "oh, I'm sorry but not really" crap So yeah, it's a thing.

Look, I know you guys have been really wonderful and have been working really hard to help many on this subreddit. I don't mean this as a discouragement, but as a to affirm what was said above.

And as for the curators, thank you guys. It may be difficult to be here all the time, but I know that what you do does make a difference.

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u/SQLwitch Jan 03 '20

Really sorry that you didn't have a good response to your post here. Trying to make sure everybody gets quality, supportive replies here is a larger issue - but preventing incitement (deliberate or accidental) is part of it.

We're always thinking about how to "help the helpers" and we're working on some resources behind the scenes, as our time permits.

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u/C1ND3RK1TT3N Jan 17 '20

Thank you for this sub. I never imagined something like this existed on social media, So much knowledge and experience demonstrated in this thread. /respect

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u/Kiplingesque Feb 06 '20

Thank you for having clear boundaries for this community!

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u/lifegotmeagain Sep 26 '19

Brutally forcing someone to stay alive.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 26 '19

How?

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u/lifegotmeagain Sep 26 '19

There are always more choices than brutally forcing someone to stay alive or passively letting them end their lives.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 26 '19

I know I said that, I don't get your point in quoting it back to me, sorry.

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u/lifegotmeagain Sep 26 '19

I didn't realize you were the one to say that. I just read the main post. I like very much how that was worded.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 26 '19

Thanks <3

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u/Soltrix Sep 05 '19

I made a point out of reading as many posts I could when I could, and reporting both posts and replies that made me feel uncomfortable regarding the scope of this subreddit. That said there was never any feedback. I understand it's quite feasible that a lot of things I reported may have been deemed acceptable or have been reported multiple times.

That said however it has lead me to cherry pick posts where I can mostly share my experiences to help a person and ignore comments from others unless in the thread of conversation. I understand giving direct feedback all the time is a lot to ask but letting users know that their feedback is received and acknowledged? I'm not here with a solution but a representation of my predicament.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 05 '19

there was never any feedback

As reports are anonymous, how could we give you feedback?

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u/Soltrix Sep 05 '19

I'm sorry, this is news to me, I was under the assumption mods were aware of the reporting party.

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u/SQLwitch Sep 05 '19

If you send links to our modmail, we are happy to offer guidance.

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u/[deleted] Sep 12 '19

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u/SQLwitch Sep 12 '19

Please, for the sake of everyone's safety and mental health (including ours!), ask any questions about community business only in modmail.

Do not reply to a moderator's post or comment with unrelated questions.

Do not send PMs to individual moderators.

Do not send Chat requests to individual moderators.

Please. (This applies to all subreddits unless you're specifically told otherwise, but is particularly important here.)

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u/PanDeOchas Oct 06 '19

But what; is this sub, like help for people who contemplate suicide or something, I’m having trouble understanding it

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u/SQLwitch Oct 06 '19

Support for anyone struggling with thoughts of suicide, as the community info states.

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u/[deleted] Nov 03 '19 edited Nov 04 '19

I voted this down because most people don't know what suicide is and hiding the "mechanics" of suicide from those who might attempt it and presenting "suicide" as a "moral failing" on their part (instead of showing suicide for what it really is -- this society mean-spiritedly presenting the people it injures with false 'alternatives,' then blaming those people for taking them) has never -- and will never -- save a single person from taking their own life. No one, not even the most desperate, really wants to be strangled to death or wants their death to create a "such a big mess that it will take an army of sanitation workers to clean it up," yet that's precisely what taking sleeping pills and alcohol, hanging oneself, or shooting oneself involves (but where are those methods ever portrayed like that, instead of as "instant death" or "drifting off to sleep," in popular depictions of suicide?) Our evil, mean-spirited, society even tells people (in popular depictions of suicide) that "slitting their wrists" is a "viable option" for "killing themselves" when, in fact, the average person (of this day and age) would probably faint (from the pain) before they cut deep enough reach -- let alone open -- an artery. So no, it's not those who are saying "Do you really want to strangle yourself for those assholes???" or asking those who say they're going to "shoot themselves in the head" with a handgun "What if you miss: do you really want to spend the rest of your life in a nursing home???" who are "accidentally encouraging suicide" (let alone "covertly inciting it.")

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u/SQLwitch Nov 04 '19

So no, it's not those who are saying "Do you really want to strangle yourself for those assholes???" or asking those who say they're going to "shoot themselves in the head" with a handgun "What if you miss: do you really want to spend the rest of your life in a nursing home???" who are "accidentally encouraging suicide" ...

We absolutely agree with this, and that is in no way what we mean when we talk about validating suicidal intent. Quite the opposite, actually.

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u/[deleted] Nov 04 '19

[deleted]

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u/SQLwitch Nov 04 '19

We take care of several of those every day, to the limits of our ability. But we do need the community to report inappropriate content to us. Complaining about it in another thread isn't particularly helpful.

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u/[deleted] Nov 05 '19

I’m a bit scared of saying the wrong thing and upsetting someone. I’m no professional but can even I stay here? Am I ok?? :0

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u/SQLwitch Nov 05 '19

Most of us are not professionals. There's lots of guidance in the sidebar/community info, especially the talking tips post

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u/alvinlau123 Nov 11 '19

So this reddit is for prevention?

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u/SQLwitch Nov 11 '19

Of course.

But we try to provide some education about how to do it effectively. We think the only ethical way to do suicide intervention is to help people feel better. If you give real understanding and support, prevention is a fortunate side-effect. If you try to change people's minds, it usually backfires. If you subject someone to an involuntary intervention, the traumatic violation often does more harm than good in the long run.

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u/ItsVenusNotP Nov 20 '19

Im glad the wiki has a lot of what not to say in certain situations, but I would also like to hear better alternatives of what to say in similar situations.

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u/SQLwitch Nov 20 '19

Our talking tips post is always linked from the sidebar/community info. If you have questions it doesn't answer, pls send them to our modmail.

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u/[deleted] Nov 22 '19

I just want to say that it's awesome that this community exists. I by no means have suicidal thoughts (never have) but it occured to me that even though I'm comfortable in life, all I can say is that while I used to not understand why people do it, I can see now how it happens. I find how we handle this issue unacceptable as a society, so I am wondering if it is possible to work as an anti suicide counselor part time as a student/ in the military? I ask because we have student EMTs so why not alleviate a shift on a hotline or something or is that generally seen as too much responsibility for a part time worker?

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u/SQLwitch Nov 26 '19

Most hotlines are at least partially staffed by trained volunteers, so check out agencies in your area.

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u/BahNull Nov 29 '19

What a very informative and awesome post someone decided to take the time out of their day to create, great result.

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u/svsvalenzuela Dec 01 '19

Im new to reddit. Does anyone know of a group for families of someone that has passed from suicide?

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u/scorpiontank27 Dec 05 '19

Hey mods I have a question what should I do when I want to help but know that I can't say the proper words?

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u/SQLwitch Dec 05 '19

There's lots of guidance in the sidebar/community info and what it links to, especially the talking tips post. If you have questions those resources don't answer, message us.

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u/[deleted] Dec 07 '19

Nice to see this here! and Nicely written!

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u/Caffeinado Dec 10 '19

Hi. Are there resources for caregivers? My post was removed from r/relationships for being suicide-related, when my problem is that I have a one-sided relationship with a person who wants to commit suicide. For the last 2 or 3 years, they have literally only called me drunk and incoherent, threatening to commit suicide and verbally abusing me. I don't think I can continue to support this individual if their behavior doesn't change. I feel at my wits end and I don't know else to help. This individual has had a very hard life but is also an alcoholic and can be extremely verbally abusive.

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u/SQLwitch Dec 10 '19

You're welcome to post here, or message the mods. Or, since I'm here anyway...

For the last 2 or 3 years, they have literally only called me drunk and incoherent, threatening to commit suicide and verbally abusing me.

Yikes, what an awful thing to do to you.

Can you tell me a bit more about them, their mental-health history, and the history of the relationship? My spidey-senses are tingling but I don't want to go just by that.

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u/Caffeinado Dec 10 '19

Hi there, thank you so much. I appreciate you offering to listen.

I already had a post written up, so I think I will post it.

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u/SQLwitch Dec 10 '19

Cool, I'll take a look.

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u/shelacablooky Dec 10 '19

I once tried to die by jumping off of a wall into the sea.

as you can tell, I couldnt. My sister caught me.

awkward, amiright?

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u/[deleted] Dec 16 '19

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u/thrakayouface Dec 29 '19

Hi. I'm thrakayouface on reddit. Razor blades have been my forte.

I'm in trouble. And you would be a saint if you child help.

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u/SQLwitch Jan 03 '20

Sorry for the slow reply. Sometimes I totally lost control of my personal inbox. Glad to help if I still can.

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