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Social media outlets can help those thinking about suicide

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The world of social media allows for all forms of expression – both helpful and harmful.  But for those who may be reaching out on social media about thoughts of suicide, there is a way to link them with the help they need right away.
 
The Focus on Life series aims to bring community stakeholders together to better address suicide and suicide prevention on island. Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center program coordinator Sara Harrell said, “The overall goal of this series of meetings is to come up with a comprehensive plan for suicide prevention.”
 
The Department of Education was one stakeholder present at the event. Nikki Monforte from DOE’s student support services division says while DOE has extensive suicide prevention protocols in place, one new tool it is looking to explore further is social media. She stated, “Through our training we found out that suicide prevention is very possible by the use of social media. When a person is in pain and they tweet out, ‘I feel like I want to kill myself,’ when you see that and you're a first responder, you can help.”
 
She also noted that social media can be used in negative ways that may actually harm individuals at risk, but a partnership between Facebook and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline may be able to help.
 
Community member Tasha Tydingco said, “Facebook, Instagram, I believe Twitter also has a link where you can actually notify Facebook for instance, and I've actually used it, when I've seen something pop up on my news feed where an individual's like, ‘I can't deal with this anymore, I feel like killing myself,’ and there's actually ways you can reach out.”
 
If you click the arrow on the top right corner of Facebook, go to the help section, and search “suicide”, there is the option to alert Facebook that there is a person that may be in need of suicide prevention services. Tydingco continued, “and they'll actually have an individual contact that person saying, ‘Hi, I heard that you're not feeling well, or you might be at risk, or someone's concerned about you, how can we help?’ It is just a matter of bringing awareness to these tools and implementing them.”
 
The next focus on life meeting will take place this July, and all those interested in participating can call 477-9079. Also, if you or someone you know is at risk for suicide, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
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