Worried About A Friend On Social Media
A young person has contacted Meic worried about their friend who’s posting worrying things on social media, and wants advice on how to keep them safe. Here’s Meic’s advice.
Grab the Meic is your opportunity to ask us about anything that’s worrying you. We’re here to listen and give advice. If you want to #grabthemeic then check out this page, but remember this advice is not instant. If you need advice quickly then please contact the helpline.
This article is also available in Welsh – I ddarllen y cynnwys yma yn Gymraeg – clicia yma
My friend has been posting some worrying stuff on social media. They keep talking about self-harm and suicide and I’m worried they might hurt themself. What can I do?
It’s great that you noticed your friend may be struggling and want to help. You sound like a great friend.
It’s important to show them kindness and patience, even if what they post makes you uncomfortable. Feeling suicidal is quite common and people deal with their pain in different ways – some post about it on social media as a way of asking for help. Doing this is extremely brave. Talking about a problem, rather than keeping it to yourself, is extremely important.
Fortunately there are a lot of great organisations and resources to help both you and your friend. The Samaritans have a page ‘What to do if you think someone you know isn’t okay’ with lots of valuable advice
The three most important things you can do are:
1) Talk to them
It doesn’t need to be about anything in particular – just have a chat with them like you normally would (they’re still the same person). Just knowing there are people they can chat to is a huge help.
If there is something they’re desperate to talk about they’ll find a way to bring it into the conversation. If this happens the best advice is just to listen. You’ll probably be tempted to give them some advice or tell a story about a similar experience you had, but it’s much more important to listen without judgement and let them get everything off their chest.
Be mindful of what you say (everything can seem negative when you’re feeling depressed, so sarcasm or joking banter may not come across as intended) and only say what you mean. Don’t say “You can always contact me if you need to talk” if you’re not prepared to potentially have them calling you at 3am.
2) Signpost them to professional services
You’re just one person. Even with the best intentions in the world, you can’t provide 24 hour support. But there are services who can, and they’re trained to do exactly that. Be kind to yourself and your friend by making sure they don’t rely solely on you, and have access to trained professionals.
Some great services in Wales are:-
- Samaritans – Helpline providing emotional support to people in emotional distress or at risk of suicide.
- ChildLine – a counselling helpline for under 18’s
- Papyrus – Suicide prevention charity. They run HopelineUK a suicide prevention helpline for children and young people under 35.
- Mind Cymru – Mental health charity offering online support, local support and an infoline.
- and, of course, Meic!
Don’t worry if your friend is in another country. There are suicide support helplines all over the world.
People who are very depressed and/or suicidal often suffer from a distorted view of self-worth: they (mistakenly) think that they are a “waste of space” or that the world would be “better off without me”. This could lead to them thinking “I don’t deserve help”. Reassure your friend that they are valued and would not be wasting anybody’s time by calling/messaging a helpline.
3) Report the post for suicidal content
(Don’t worry, they won’t get in trouble)
All social media platforms have advice on seeing worrying content on their pages and ways to report. Check out each one:
Instagram – Advice on the steps you can take to help someone if you see something worrying. A list of helplines and resources they’ve developed to help.
Snapchat: A list of resources to help if someone is in crisis, a list of helplines and a way to contact them to report it.
TikTok: Advice on what to do if you see a user who needs support. Explains how to report and a list of support resources.
Twitter: Helpful advice on how to recognise the warning signs for self-harm or suicide, how to report and resources to help.
YouTube: Steps on what to do if you find worrying content and what to do if you need support.
Don’t forget about yourself
Thank you for looking out for your friend. We’re always up for a chat so if you’d like to talk about helping your friends, and how that impacts you, remember that you can get in touch as well. Meic is free and open for everyone!