Sinead O’Connor’s scary Facebook post a call for help
Singer Sinead O’Connor’s social cry for help could have been reported to Facebook’s suicide lifeline.
Sinead O’Connor’s possible suicide post got more than 6,000 “likes” on Facebook — but a meaningless mouseclick is no substitute for getting the depressed person what he or she really needs: help.
“Time is anybody’s ally. The vast majority of people struggling with thoughts of suicide, if given time, can talk themselves out of the immediate crisis,” says Garra Lloyd-Lester of the Suicide Prevention Center of New York State. “Encourage them to reach out for help.”
Facebook has partnered with the Suicide Prevention Lifeline to offer online crisis services so that people in distress can get professional help stat. Here are two ways to file a report if someone you know threatens self-harm on Facebook:
1. Hit the “Report/Mark as Spam” button on the upper right hand of the questionable comment, which appears after you scroll over the “X.” Click the option to report, and select the “Violence or harmful behavior” field and scroll down to “Suicidal Content.” Your report will be sent to Facebook’s Safety Team, who may send the person who posted the worrisome comment an e-mail encouraging him or her to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or to click a link to begin a confidential online chat with a crisis worker.
2. Or click on the downward arrow button found on the righthand corner of your screen. Select the “Help” option and type “suicide” into the search box. Then click on the result, “How do I help someone who has posted suicidal content on the site,” and fill out a form with the name and web address of the user, and any other relevant information. Again, this will reviewed by Facebook’s Safety Team, who will direct your friend to getting help.
O’Connor posted a long message to Facebook stating that she overdosed in a hotel in Ireland.
The Facebook team will also work to take the alarming posts down to nip any copycats in the bud. “Many people that have begun thinking baout suicide as an option feel lonely, they feel invisible, they feel isolated,” says Lloyd-Lester. “And if they’re seeing a lot of positive attention toward someone either thinking about suicide openly online, or who has already completed suicide, there is a glamorization around that … might encourage others.”
As of Monday morning, however, O’Connor’s distressing status update had been shared more than 4,500 times. It is unclear whether anyone reported her suicidal status update to Facebook.
Of course, if your loved one claims to have already harmed him or herself, the first, best call is to 911, experts say. “Then you’re looking at rendering physical First Aid, so you should notify the authorities as soon as possible,” says Lloyd-Lester.
If there is still time to try convincing your friend to change his mind and get help, don’t offer empty promises about making everything better, which will sound insincere.
“If someone is thinking about suicide because they have a gambling problem, don’t say, ‘Let me get my checkbook and get you that money,’ because most people are going to realize that’s bogus,” says Lloyd-Lester. “But offering hope, and indicating that people can get through these crises can be very helpful, especially if you have a good relationship.
“But you wouldn’t want to ‘like’ the status or write comments that are less than supportive,” he adds – which was unfortunately the case with O’Connor. “That can be something that might just help facilitate somebody going from thougths [of suicide] to acting on those thoughts.”
Experts say it’s crucial to point someone having suicidal thoughts to places where they can get help.
Warning Signs of Suicide
• Talking about wanting to die.
• Looking for a way to kill oneself.
• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose.
• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
• Talking about being a burden to others.
• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
• Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly.
• Sleeping too little or too much.
• Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
• Displaying extreme mood swings.
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide:
• Do not leave the person alone.
• Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
• Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
• Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.