When someone speaks out about their mental health struggles, you might not know if you're the right person to offer support. But even if it's someone you're not close with anymore or even an acquaintance, you may be able to make a difference. Especially because some people turn to social media when they're in crisis — even posting on social media about suicidal thoughts.
"Social media has given us a portal into the most personal thoughts and feelings of everyone and anyone," Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. "Likewise, it has given us a way to share our own most personal thoughts and feelings with literally the world. What that means is that we are going to be exposed to the distress that comes into people's lives." If you see someone posting about suicidal thoughts on social media, it can be difficult to know what to do next.
Social media keeps us connected to all sorts of different people — acquaintances, old friends, even celebrities — and that when we see someone posting in distress, Klapow says it is possible to step up to the plate and offer support.
One of the reasons it's so important to respond when someone reaches out on social media is that not everyone shares their struggles with with suicidal thoughts. "One sign that someone is in crisis is social withdrawal and isolation which is why social media outlets may be a rare opportunity to reach someone in distress and provide support especially for an individual who is experiencing suicidal ideation," Melinda R. Paige, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, CPCS, assistant professor in clinical mental health counseling at Argosy University in Atlanta, tells Bustle.
If you're not sure what to do, experts say it's all about letting someone know you're there and helping them get help.
Editor's Note: If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. You can also reach out to the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 or the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386, or to your local suicide crisis center.