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How we approach depressive and suicidal content


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I think it’s about time that we clarify (rather clarify again) our position on status updates, posts, blogs, etc that have depressive or suicidal messaging. Whether  self-deprecating or otherwise, staff takes a fair approach to these trying to balance a positive atmosphere while being empathetic toward those that struggle with Depression, Anxiety, and Personality disorders. Here are the important parts. 


We will not warn or ban users with mental health concerns. 

While some may disagree with this, we take the general position that banning a user for posting that they want to die or that they hate their life is a dick move. This is pretty much off the table. 


We are not mental health professionals 

Nobody on staff is trained and licensed to help people with mental health problems. We will not adopt or advocate a process to ‘fix’ the issues some of our users face. I’m actually one of the few here that has taken clinical psychology courses on abnormal and developmental psychology, and was married to a PsyD for several decades. I’ve faced my own problems, had family commit suicide, and had even more attempt it. Self-harm is something that I’ve had to address as a parent. Even with that exposure, I’m not close to being qualified to step in. I know better. 


Staff will react to depressive and suicidal content

While we won’t treat this like different rule violations, we will still hide status updates and blogs that are concerning. We may let it go, we may reach out to the person suggesting Life Advice, online and phone resources, and even suggesting someone engage their health professionals for treatment. We will not just let the content sit if we see it. In rare cases we may limit what is approved or prevent a person posting status update for a day. 


You have some control over what you see

We do appreciate reports on ones we don’t catch, but over the years I’ve noticed some phrase their report comments in a way that seems to reflect a dislike for the content, or bias against an individual. To those individuals I would direct them to their profile settings where they can Ignore specific users. The rebuttals I have heard before have been along the lines of not wanting to use this feature due to some perceived notice that it’s somehow limiting them. It’s a puzzling point to make if the person truly is bother by seeing what they call negative comments. If you don’t like it just preempt it. Some advocate for removing these people from the site so they don’t have to see it, but ignoring serves the same end result without resulting to heartless moderation. 


“But you/we can’t do this forever!”

I’ve seen the above quote tossed at me by staff and users alike. Current staff will know immediately what I am going to say here in response to us not being able to address this issue ongoing in perpetuity with specific individuals. My response is 

“Yes. We. Can” ~ Jeric at least monthly 

It takes a few seconds to hide a post/status/etc. We don’t see these daily, so suggesting that we have some nebulous limit to where we give up is absurd, and almost sounds lazy when considering the context of the effort to intervene. 


In summary, we aren’t going to be harsh with this approach. We are going to try and limit how often “FML” content shows because many people just prefer a calm atmosphere. And we will not take the path of least resistance with those struggling from mental health disorders. 


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