Instagram Update: New feature adds support options for suicide prevention

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Social media can be a breeding ground for bullying and intolerance. While platforms have found it challenging to fully monitor this harassment, Instagram is implementing a support system for those at risk of self-harm and suicide. 

A new Instagram update allows users to anonymously report friends who exhibit troubling signs on the app. The friend will then receive the following message: "Someone saw one of your posts and thinks you might be going through a difficult time. If you need support, we'd like to help." 

From there, they'll have the option to talk to a friend, contact a helpline or receive tips and support. 

Instagram's new support feature
Source: 
Instagram/Seventeen

"We listen to mental health experts when they tell us that outreach from a loved one can make a real difference for those who may be in distress," Instagram chief operating officer Marne Levine told Seventeen. "At the same time, we understand friends and family often want to offer support but don't know how best to reach out. These tools are designed to let you know that you are surrounded by a community that cares about you, at a moment when you might most need that reminder."

In order to the nail the right language for the prompts, Instagram worked with the National Eating Disorders Association, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and others with experience dealing with eating disorders, self-harm or suicide.

For those in crisis and in need of immediate help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 1-800-273-8255. 

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Aric Suber-Jenkins

Aric is a writer covering technology. His work has appeared in Newsweek, Maxim and Brooklyn Magazine. He is based in New York and can be reached at aric@mic.com.

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