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Why Do People Ignore Suicide Threats Online?

Recently suicide threats are on my mind as I had to deal with a very serious one last week on Facebook. There are two things that shock me about suicide threats online:

  1. People usually ignore them.
  2. Some (depraved) people actually egg the suicidal person on.

Now, I won’t go on about how deplorable it is to egg on another person’s suicidal ideation or threat, but I do want to discuss why people ignore suicide threats.

Turning Your Back on Suicide Threats

Unfortunately, some people are desperate enough to post threats of suicide online, but so often these suicide threats are ignored - why? Breaking Bipolar blog.Recently I have come down hard on those who would ignore the suicide threat of their “friend” on Facebook. Personally, I see no excuse for this behavior and I think people should be ashamed of themselves for it.

However, there are reasons people ignore suicide threats.

1. They don’t take them seriously.

Again, I find it really hard to accept this kind of thinking. What right do you have to override what a person is saying and just assume they aren’t serious? Do you not realize the repercussions if you’re wrong? Do you really want to stake the life of someone on your ability to ferret out the “real” meaning behind a few characters of written word? Seems pretty silly to me.

2. They don’t know what to do.

OK, I do understand this. Some people really are at a general loss of what to do if someone threatens suicide. But seriously, all you have to do is search the Facebook help file for “suicide” or search Google for “suicide content Facebook” and you get information on how to handle it, so saying that you don’t know what to do is a bit of a cop out.

3. People don’t want to believe a suicide threat is real.

I think what it comes down to for many people is that they don’t want to believe that a suicide threat is real. People don’t want to hear about the grave pain of others, in fact, they want to believe it doesn’t exist. I understand; this is human nature. I don’t want to know it exists either but no amount of sand in the world can make a suicide threat disappear.

4. People don’t want to be bothered.

Again, human nature. People don’t want to admit it but they don’t want to take the time out of their busy lives to help another person. People will give another excuse like, “I thought they were kidding,” but what they really mean is they couldn’t be bothered. However, no one, and I mean no one, is so busy that they can’t take the time to report a suicide threat. After all, they are just checking their Facebook page, after all.

5. People don’t want to “get involved.”

Yes, I get it. You don’t want to be in the middle of a life-and-death situation. I don’t really blame you. But the fact is, your help doesn’t have to put you in the middle of anything. Calling in the professionals is what matters – let them get in the middle of what’s happening.

Helping Someone Who Has Threatened Suicide

Admittedly, dealing with suicidal threats can be very stressful. No one wants to know that someone is in the struggle for his or her life. And what’s worse, even if you do the right thing and call the authorities, you may never even find out what happened or you may be left waiting for days before you find out whether the person was OK.

And that sucks.

The pressure it puts on your sucks. The toll it takes on you sucks. The worry it likely induces sucks. But no one ever said that being a good human being was easy.

Handling Suicide Threats on Facebook

The important thing to remember is that ignoring a suicide threat is never the right thing to do. Suicide threats should always be taken seriously even if they are online. You need to take the step to give out hotline number and call the authorities.

For a list of hotlines, please see this HealthyPlace resource.

For more on how to handle suicide threats on Facebook, see this article. (Note: this article is on my personal site which is in no way affiliated with HealthyPlace).

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar Burble, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

6 thoughts on “Why Do People Ignore Suicide Threats Online?”

  1. People that want to kill themselves are selfish. How many time have u seen accidents that involves people who wanted to die? They dont want to die alone! They drag others with them! That’s why I have such a hatred towards these people and usually ignore them. You want to die? Go do it alone in a quiet area, I dont care. Dont endanger other people with ur selfish act.

  2. I agree. I always think it is very sad when people either egg on people who are suicidal on the internet (see this ALL the time in Yahoo! Answers) or dismiss the person as undeserving of life anyway. Part of me has always wanted to understand why people think that ingnoring someone’s plight for life or desperation for death is acceptable. In my books however, it will never be acceptable. I know if some of my friends (ACTUAL friends, not Facebook “aqquantaincaes”) hadn’t of cared about me, then I would be dead.

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