Looking out for friends online

Posted on 06 October 2015

When people are going through a tough time they may turn to social media as a way of expressing their feelings.  For World Mental Health Day (10th October 2015) we have compiled advice about what to do if you’re concerned about a friend online.

Last year the Samaritans and Facebook produced the guide, Help a Friend in Need, to help people identify if one of their friends is going through a hard time.  The guide offers suggestions on how to approach a friend, what to say, how to react and what to avoid. 

Here’s what to do to help a friend in need:

  1. Trust your instincts.  If you see someone posting messages, photos, videos or links that suggest the person is not doing so well, you should reach out, talk to them as they may need some help. As a friend you know them best.
  2. Look for warning signs.  While it can be hard, particularly online, to tell how someone is feeling, if they indicate that they may be at risk, you should always take this seriously.  The guide from Facebook and Samaritans provides a list of things to watch out for. 
  3. Offer support.  Don’t be afraid to give your friend a call, pay a visit, or send them a message to let them know you are concerned. Offer to help connect them with any extra support needed.
  4. Tell someone.  If you think a friend is feeling suicidal or might need help, please contact Samaritans, who are available round the clock, every single day of the year. You can reach Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90

The full guide can be downloaded from: http://www.samaritans.org/sites/default/files/kcfinder/files/help-a-friend-in-need.pdf

Samaritans have a Supporting Someone Online page which contains more information about supporting someone online.  

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