Twitter takes steps to raise awareness on suicide prevention on World Suicide Prevention Day


September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day and the theme for this year is ‘Working Together to Prevent Suicide’. In recognition of this important event, Twitter, in partnership with the International Association for Suicide Prevention, is launching a special emoji in the shape of an orange ribbon – the international symbol for World Suicide Prevention Day.

The emoji will appear when people Tweet with the hashtags #WorldSuicidePreventionDay or #WSPD or #आत्महत्यारोकथामदिवस from 7-16 September.

According to the World Health Organisation, almost 800 000 people die due to suicide every year – or one person every 40 seconds. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds globally. Twitter believes that addressing mental health requires collaboration between all stakeholders – public, private and not-for-profit – and recognises that they have a role and responsibility to help ensure that people in India can access and receive support when they need it most.

In addition to the partnership with International Association for Suicide Prevention, Twitter India has partnered with White Swan Foundation (@mentalhealthind), to provide them with #adsforgood grants to help them reach more people.

Mahima Kaul (@misskaul), Head of Public Policy, Twitter India said, “Twitter being a public service platform believes we can collectively address the challenges presented by the unacceptably high rates of suicide and self harm presented in our society today. Today on World Suicide Prevention Day, we have a role to create awareness, recognize the impact of suicide and offer support to the society to build a healthy India. The open nature of the platform encourages users to reach out to each other and offer support if they find any suicide or self harming behaviour. Through our partnerships with International Association for Suicide Prevention and White Swan Foundation, we aim to create greater awareness around suicide and suicide prevention, connect with people and address mental health issues prevailing in our society.”

Manoj Chandra, CEO, White Swan Foundation said “This World Suicide Prevention Day, White Swan Foundation is happy to partner with Twitter India to reach out to millions on this very urgent topic. On communication on suicide prevention, it’s time we begin to expand our audience to include the bystanders. We must realize that each one of us has a role to play in preventing suicide. To our ability to be empathetic towards people around us, if we could add the right knowledge, we can become effective gatekeepers. Twitter’s subscriber base has the potential to become crucial change agents in the society to question the norms and create a movement where the focus shifts to prevention and inclusive care”.

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Suicide prevention remains a complex challenge but Twitter believes that it is important that people who are struggling are seen and heard so that they can get the help they need.

The various communities on Twitter are a source of positive support; encouraging users who may be struggling not to self harm, and to reach out for professional help.

In addition, NGOs often use Twitter as a channel to identify and reach out to vulnerable people who they may otherwise not have contact with, and to raise awareness of their important services. The presence of these organisations is indicative of a trend we see globally in the way mental health service providers are digitising in order to meet the changing needs of society, especially to reach a younger audience. Increasingly, Twitter sees mental health organisations offering critical services via digital channels and social media platforms that are relevant, widely used and reflective of the way society communicates today.

Twitter has a dedicated reporting form for people threatening suicide or self harm, and a specialised team who review these reports. When they receive reports that a person is threatening suicide or self-harm, they will contact the reported user and let him or her know that someone who cares about them identified that they might be at risk. They  will provide the reported user with available online and hotline resources and encourage them to seek help.

Twitter also provide information on our Help Centre both for people who may be experiencing thoughts of suicide and self harm, and for people who are concerned about another Twitter user.

Through its partnerships and initiatives, Twitter is committed to make a valuable contribution to the ongoing and larger efforts required to address this serious issue.