Internet Interventions – When Someone is Suicidal

sad girlNOTE: Although this post will remain on Kali’s OQM Musings, it has been reproduced and future BMS posts will appear on A Burning Journey. Please check it out if you are interested in more about Burning Mouth Syndrome.

I have been active on a Facebook Closed Support Group page for Burning Mouth Syndrome sufferers. It is a positive experience most of the time, but occasionally things take a turn for the worse, and I see people posting suicidal thoughts and deep despair.

Their fellow members jump in and try to help, but it is incredibly difficult to ascertain whether the original poster is truly in a dangerous state of mind, or whether they are just despairing that day, and have opted to put that feeling in a public place. (The page has nearly 500 members from around the world and seems to be growing daily – if you are a BMS sufferer, put Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS) into the Facebook search and ask to join if you are interested.)

I started thinking about what we should do with information like this on the Internet. How can we intervene constructively?

In the parenting world, we are taught that when someone makes a suicidal statement, you take it seriously. If you are wise, you even prepare that emotional construct by telling your children or other family members that if they ever say something like that, you will take it seriously, and you will get them help.

If a friend made that statement to me, I would make sure that they got to their doctor, and not tomorrow, but today.

But on the Internet, it is a different ball game. You don’t know these people at all, and anything you say may be misinterpreted as criticism or disapproval. (Two things we try to avoid in a support group!) Continue reading