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Instagram Seeks To Help Prevent Suicide With A New Tool

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Social media has become such a powerful tool, and is quite possibly the biggest platform for modern self-expression and communication. Now, photo-sharing app Instagram has harnessed its influence to help its users with mental health issues.

Instagram has introduced a tool that can help prevent suicide, self-harm, eating disorders and more, by allowing users to pinpoint those who may have problems and offering timely help, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The app relies on its users instead of algorithms. Anyone who sees posts that appear to be suicidal or express threats of self-injury can anonymously report the post. Marni Tomljanovic, spokesperson for Instagram, says,

We have teams working around the world, 24/7, who review these reports. They prioritize the most serious reports and respond quickly. If someone on Instagram sees a direct threat of suicide or self-injury, we encourage them to contact local emergency services immediately.

Every flagged post is reviewed, and if the team agrees that it could be a threat to self-injury, the user will receive a notification that reads, “Can we help?” along with a message that says, “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.”

The notification then gives three options that the user can choose from: talk to a friend, contact a helpline or get tips and support. Instagram has partnered with over 40 different organizations around the world that specialize in assisting people who are thinking of suicide. These include the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the National Eating Disorders Association, Samaritans and

Tomljanovic says the app also consulted with people who had personally experienced eating disorders or contemplated suicide, and listened to what experts advised on the matter.

This new tool is similar to parent company Facebook’s suicide prevention tool, which is still offered on the social networking site. It follows a move by Instagram in September that now lets users ban offensive comments from their posts.

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