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Harnessing New and Social Media to Prevent Suicide

Another breakout session featured at the 2010 Suicide Prevention Conference was a lively and informative session centered on New and Social Media titled Harnessing New and Social Media to Prevent Suicide. The goal of the conversation was to understand how social media can serve as a powerful means to prevent suicide and the discussion began with a simple question:

What is Social Media?

Social media icons

Social Media is defined as an online set of tools that allows anyone with basic computer skills to tell their stories using the internet to create a shared community experience both online and in-person. Online social media forums can be found such as:

  • Blogs Example: DCoE Blog
  • Networking sites Example: DCoE Facebook Page
  • Videos Example: You Tube
  • Photo Sharing Example: Flickr
  • Wikis Example: Wikipedia

Shared online communities contain a group of people with common interests who connect online to: learn, play, work, organize and socialize. Online communities like those connected with suicide prevention can galvanize large or small groups of survivors, friends, families, researchers and educators locally or around the globe into a unified conversation to share important information and create supportive relationships.

Statistically, social media is proving to be a relevant tool, not a passing fad, which is used to provide health information to support suicide prevention efforts.

  • Over 8 million online users seek health information daily and half of those people are searching for information for a friend or family member
  • 23% of Internet users are searching for mental health information
  • 35% of adults have profiles on social networking sites

Recent examples of online suicide prevention conversations were highlighted. The most prominent example of suicide prevention was the case of a British teenager who was saved by a friend on Facebook when he threatened suicide. Other examples supported how social media creates a community where users take care of each other.

Panel speakers Eileen Zeller, MPH, SAMHSA; Kenneth Norton, LICSW, National Alliance on Mental Illness New Hampshire; and LTC Ashleah Bechtel, Army National Guard moved the conversation to showcase online prevention efforts.

Resource highlights included:

As Social Media continues to move mainstream so can the conversation on suicide prevention in order to educate, inform and create understanding.

*Videos from the conference will soon be posted. Be sure to check out the Suicide Prevention Conference stories in our next DCoE in Action.

* Continue the conversation. DCoE’s just launched a new Twitter page, become a follower today.


Comments (1)

  • Michelle Kozlowski 05 Sep

    With the increasing rate of death from suicides...any and every tool that can impact this tragic loss of our service persons and their family members - to make a difference is necessary to stop the hopelessness that engulfs each and every precious individual.This is getting ugly and we need to stop being nice and do WHAT EVER IT TAKES. Suicides are NOT the answer and each person needs TO KNOW and TO BELIEVE that they matter and there is a lifeline for get them where they are to fullfil their purpose. I know I have the FIRE in my soul and as long as there is a breath in this physical body, I will call upon the every ounce of my being to continue to move forward...(Thank you for the DCoE call center for supporting me to continue) We can no longer be silent, so we need to use the modern day tools (to attract the attention and set in motion the law for change) I AM one and Ican make a difference. So be it - It is so. GODSPEED

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