Young people across the globe can now access guidelines to help them communicate safely online about suicide.
The guidelines, called #chatsafe: a young person’s guide for communicating safely online about suicide, were first released in August 2018 and have since been made available to Facebook’s 2.41 billion users. Now they have been further developed into local languages for Brazil, Finland, Hong Kong, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, South Korea, Singapore, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Associate Professor Jo Robinson, head of suicide prevention research at Orygen, said the key to making the guidelines available globally has been working with international partners who share a commitment to the safety and mental health of young people.
“Now more than ever young people are using social media to connect with each other and talk about difficult issues, including suicide,” Associate Professor Robinson said. “The #chatsafe guidelines aim to help them do this safely. They have been a great success in Australia and we are really excited to have worked with the different partners so that we can now share them with young people from all over the world.”
Manager of Online Crises Services at MIELI Mental Health Finland, Satu Sutelainen said when in suicidal crisis or when helping a friend in crisis, having access to support in your native language was essential.
“In that moment it might be too much to deal with to have to read those in English,” Ms Sutelainen said. “The #chatsafe guidelines offer help in a form which is easy to understand and use even with this topic, that might still bear stigma for many young people.
“We at MIELI Mental Health Finland are very happy to be able to publish the guidelines in Finnish. We are a small country with alarming suicide rates and all the work we can do to prevent suicide needs to be done.”
Samaritans of Singapore Chief Executive Gasper Tan said it was important to adapt with the times and the technologies that young people use to communicate.
“Globally, we have observed a shift in the way we express ourselves digitally. It is essential, more than ever, that we create conversations that matter online,” Mr Tan said. “#chatsafe is a guide that educates the community in ways to engage in conversations around suicide and self-harm responsibly.”
Dr Fredrik Walby, project head at The Norwegian Surveillance System for Suicide in Mental Health and Substance Misuse Services, said that, in Norway, suicide-related content on social media had attracted a lot of public concern.
“The #chatsafe guidelines finally provide young people with tools to communicate safely online about suicide," Dr Walby said.
The Secretary General of Mind in Sweden, Karin Schulz, said the #chatsafe guidelines were a necessity.
“It is clear that guidance regarding how to communicate and respond to mental health issues and suicidal thoughts is needed,” Ms Schulz said. “We hope that these guidelines we will help create a safe environment online.”
Zoe Teh, a former youth advisor and research assistant on the #chatsafe project, said making the guidelines globalised ensured more young people around the world would have access to appropriate resources.
“We’ve had a lot of great feedback and input from young people about how #chatsafe has helped them here in Australia, but suicide is a global issue and it’s great to see the guidelines help others internationally,” Zoe said.
The guidelines are available at www.orygen.org.au/chatsafe. When the site detects that you are in a country other than Australia, users will receive an alert to the guidelines in various languages.
In country, the guidelines will be promoted with a range of content developed in partnership with local young people.
Development of the #chatsafe guidelines was funded by the Australian Government, under the National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program. The guidelines have been taken global with support from Facebook.