Many countries, including Australia, have developed media guidelines for safe reporting of suicide. These guidelines target media professionals and have been largely focused on traditional forms of news and print media, rather than the internet and 'social media'. However, young people increasingly use social media platforms to discuss suicide in a number of ways. Strategies focused on involvement of professionals and on traditional forms of media are therefore less likely to be helpful for young people.
To date, there is a lack of evidence about safe and helpful online peer-to-peer communication about suicide, and there is little guidance available to help young people safely discuss suicide online. The aim of this project was to develop a set of evidence-informed guidelines that could help young people to communicate safely online about suicide.
The #chatsafe guidelines were co-created with young people, suicide prevention experts, and media and communications professionals
The Delphi Consensus Method
The #chatsafe guidelines were developed using the Delphi consensus methodology, that draws on expert opinions to identify best practice when evidence is lacking, and has been used in the development of guidelines for other mental health topics.
Our Delphi study consisted of two parts. The first was a systematic search of peer-reviewed and grey literature (e.g. websites and reports), in order to identify specific actions that young people could take when communicating online about suicide. These action statements were then entered into a questionnaire and their importance for inclusion in the guidelines was rated by two expert panels. The first panel included young people identified through Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health’s youth networks. The second panel consisted of suicide prevention experts, and media and communications professionals.
The role of the panel members was to rate each item according to how important they considered it to be for inclusion in the guidelines, across two rounds of questionnaires. Items that were endorsed as ‘essential’ or ‘important’, by at least 80% of both panels, were included in the final guidelines.
3. Robinson J, Hill NTM, Thorn P, Battersby R, Teh Z, Reavley NJ, et al. (2018) The #chatsafe project. Developing guidelines to help young people communicate safely about suicide on social media: A Delphi study. PLoS ONE 13(11): e0206584. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0206584
The voices of young people are vital in our suicide prevention work and we join them in hope for the future
Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health’s #chatsafe project is supported by funding from the Australian Government, under the National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program.
Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health was first established on the lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respect to Elders past, present and emerging and to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples throughout Australia.
The authors thank our project partners: The University of Melbourne, Everymind and Facebook.
The authors thank Simon Goodrich, Ryan Blandon, Libby de Souza and Sarah Kaur from Portable: A digital design and technology company for graphic design and layout.
The authors are extremely grateful to the following expert panel members for their invaluable contribution to the development of these guidelines: Dr John Ackerman, Dr Bart Andrews, Professor Ella Arensman, Eleanor Bailey, Dr Jo Bell, Katherine Berney, Kim Borrowdale, Emily Boubis, Emily Cole, Dr Georgina Cox, Brooke Cross, Han Duong, Bronwen Edwards, Penny Fannin, Marie Gallo-Dyak, Rhylee Hardiman, Amy Hatfield, Professor Keith Hawton, Associate Professor Sarah Hetrick, Taylor Johnstone, Jenya Kalagurgevic, Sharanjit Kaur, Sarah Langley, Tina Li, Britt Liebeck, Dr Ann Luce, Lilian Ma, Nikolina Mabic, Roxxanne MacDonald, Kathryn McGrath, Mary Mansilla, Denise Meine-Graham, Dr Katherine Mok, Dr Sally Morris, Katherine Newton, Associate Professor Thomas Niederkrotenthaler, Meghan O’Keefe, Professor Jong-Ik Park, Emily Parry, Dr Dan Reidenberg, Dr Simon Rice, Ella Robinson-Clarke, Associate Professor Vincent Silenzio, Assistant Professor Mark Sinyor, Professor Merike Sisask, Dr Jaelea Skehan, Ellen Sproule, Andrew Synnot, Assistant Professor Benedikt Till, Dr Michael Utterson, Ash West, Professor Paul Yip and Assistant Professor Nerissa Young.
We acknowledge young people, as well as their friends and families, who have lived experience of suicide; including those who have attempted suicide and those bereaved by suicide. We remember friends we have lost by suicide and recognise the suffering that suicide brings when it touches our lives and community.
We recognise the communities of young people who are at increased risk of suicide, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, LGBTIQA+ young people, those people in rural and remote areas of Australia and those suffering from mental illness or social disadvantage.
The voices of young people are vital in our suicide prevention work and we join them in hope for the future.
Please use this suggested citation when referencing the #chatsafe guidelines
Robinson, J., Hill, N., Thorn, P., Teh, Z., Battersby, R., & Reavley, N., #chatsafe: A young person’s guide for communicating safely online about suicide. Melbourne: Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, 2018.
☎️ Online and phone support services
📔 Social media platform resources
☎️ Call 000
For less urgent assistance, contact one of the following support services.
Provides free 24/7 telephone, online, and video counselling and crisis support to all Australians affected by suicide.
☎️ Call 1300 659 467
🌏️ Visit suicidecallbackservice.org.au
Provides free 24/7 online and phone personal crisis support and suicide prevention services to all Australians.
☎️ Call 13 11 14
🌏️ Visit lifeline.org.au
Provides free and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling for children and young people aged between five and 25 years.
☎️ Call 1800 551 800
🌏️ Visit kidshelpline.com.au
Provides email, chat and phone counselling for young people aged between 12 and 25 years. eheadspace operates seven days a week, from 9:00am to 1:00am AEDST.
☎️ Call 1800 650 890
🌏️ Visit eheadspace.org.au
Australian suicide prevention resources available through different 'social media' platforms.
Facebook Help Centre has a number of tools to help people who have come across suicide-related material. The Suicide Prevention Help Centre provides information on how to report suicide content to a trained member of their safety team who will identify the 'post' and the location of the 'user'. If necessary, they can contact emergency services to assist those at risk of suicide or self-harm. The Suicide Prevention Help Centre also provides information on country-specific suicide prevention helplines to assist people who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts, feelings or behaviour.
Instagram Help Centre provides details to assist users to report content that suggests a person may be at risk of suicide or self- harm. Users can report content by
The help centre also provides links to suicide prevention websites and hotlines that can assist people during a suicidal crisis.
Snapchat Support Centre recommends users who are concerned about a fellow user encourage the person to seek help or consult with a professional service. If users don’t feel comfortable engaging with the person who may be at risk of suicide, they can report a safety concern by:
Twitter Help Centre provides information on how to report self-harm and suicide-related content to a trained team devoted to responding to people who share content that suggests they may be at risk of self-harm or suicide. Information on how to recognise the signs of self-harm and suicide are provided, as well as an online form to alert the Twitter suicide prevention response team.