Stop Reporting Suicidal People on Twitter – You’re Not Fucking Helping

Reporting people to Twitter for being suicidal might seem like you’re helping, but actually could be making things so much worse.


The report button on Twitter is usually reserved for hate but it is possible to report people who you fear may be suicidal or at risk of self-harming. This feature to the social media platform was one which few people asked for. While it may have been a way to help users (although they could just ban all Nazis and TERFs), reporting someone who is depressed is probably not going to help them, and may even make the situation worse.

Twitter is a platform that’s often viewed as a forum for endless chatter. There is incessant noise on the platform but that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad thing. Among the dog videos, the weird workplace drama threads and the trolling, are often important tweets that make profound statements. Some of these aren’t remotely designed to capture attention. Twitter is a quick platform to converse easily on a range of topics, but it can also be used to figure out what’s going on in your own head.

For people facing difficulties with their mental health, a platform like Twitter can be helpful. It can allow people to process their thoughts, write them down and post them. People aren’t always looking for answers or even replies. But posting your deepest fears or threads trying to make sense of what’s going on inside of you can feel hugely freeing. For some, it may even be an intermediary step between being able to open up to the people they love. Twitter can be anonymous, and that ability to hide an identity can really help those trying to work through their mental health conditions.

“For people facing difficulties with their mental health, a platform like Twitter can be helpful”

This is why it can be disastrous when a vulnerable person finds out they have been reported for suicidal ideation or for indicating they might self-harm. Suddenly, the platform they trusted is now a tool that has been used to spy on them. The messages Twitter gives out aren’t helpful, and can send someone with anxiety into a deep panic about their status on the platform, who has reported them and what this means for them.

It can be incredibly difficult for people to talk about their mental health. In recent years, there has been a huge push to try to make it easier for people to explore their mental health and have difficult conversations. Reporting someone on Twitter for expressing that they feel suicidal undoes all of that hard work. What we have to do is ask if our actions are helping the situation or if they are risking causing further harm. Reporting someone anonymously does not bring comfort to someone, and nor is it likely to help if the person has trust issues. People log on to Twitter for many reasons, and for some, it is a realm in which to escape to. They don’t deserve to have that taken away.

We need to support people with mental health conditions but we have to do so in the right way. Reporting someone for being suicidal isn’t helping. It might be a way to tidy up our own timelines but it doesn’t at all help end the stigma around mental health. Try having conversations with people if you’re worried about them. Don’t report them behind their backs.

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