Promoting Hope, Preventing Suicide

Research and advice on preventing teen and adult suicide

Promoting hope through social media

How can social media help us?

Tomorrow, I'll be part of a panel at the American Association of Suicidology conference. The conference, like a lot of my work, is a place where my heart and my mind can meet and be fulfilled. It's a gathering of suicide and suicide prevention advocates, researchers, and other professionals, as well as individuals affected personally by suicide.

I'll be presenting on the topic I've been writing about here for the last couple of weeks: social media and suicide prevention.

I'm lucky to be one of many doing important work in this area. My fellow panelists are with a state organization using social media to build momentum for the suicide prevention work in one state; a tribal school using social media to stay connected to students throughout the day; and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which has a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter and has developed the much-needed online postvention manual, helping people know how to appropriately respond online after a suicide.

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What's impressed me as I've become involved in social media work is that suicide prevention advocates are committed to being both strategic and responsive.

Social media's omnipresence has forced people who care about saving lives to step up and figure out how to use these platforms to connect with people in crisis, searching for information, or interested in becoming involved in the movement.

Most interestingly, social media have created places where people gather to get hope. I've seen that through my experience here as a blogger and heard the same idea anecdotally from people working on the ground, particularly with youth.

Are there ways that you've seen social media promote hope?

Copyright 2011 Elana Premack Sandler, All Rights Reserved

Elana Premack Sandler, M.S.W., M.P.H., is a public health social worker specializing in violence and injury prevention and adolescent health promotion.

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