A good portion of our days is spent online, whether we're sharing articles on Facebook, posting vacation photos on Instagram, tweeting reactions to the election, or trying out the latest Snapchat filter. Much of the dialogue around our online lives has focused on how each of us, as individuals, can protect ourselves from hackers, trolls, and misinformation. But what do you do when you see a friend, or even a stranger, post something that is seriously troubling or just feels off in a way you can't quite put your finger on? "If you see a post that is an imminent — someone says, 'I'm done with life,' or, 'I don't want to live anymore' — then you need to report it to law enforcement," says Daniel J. Reidenberg, PsyD, the executive director of the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) and managing director of the National Council for Suicide Prevention. Reidenberg has worked with tech companies, including Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Apple, to develop mental-health resources for users. But if the post isn't as clear, the guidelines around what to do can seem less clear. In a case like that, Reidenberg says that the most important thing is to reach out to a friend directly, either online or in person. "Say you're concerned and offer help and assistance," he says. "Often, when someone's in a crisis, they don't see alternatives or options. Offering to help connect them with those resources for those kinds of things can make a huge difference in helping someone." If you aren't able to get in touch with someone, reporting the person's status or post to the social network is a smart step. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat all offer tools to do so, in addition to extra resources where you can direct someone or get more information yourself. Read on for a comprehensive guide to what each network has to offer.
SnapchatSnapchat's offerings aren't as robust as Facebook and Instagram's, but there are still steps you can take if you think you see a safety concern on the app. The easiest way to notify the company is by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by filing a report on Snapchat's support site. You can also visit Snapchat's Safety Center, where there are additional resources and links to external sites including The Trevor Project and ConnectSafely.
"What we don't want is for someone to see something and not do anything about it," Reidenberg says. "But oftentimes, people are afraid to." As we head into the holiday season — a difficult time for many people — remember: The worst course of action is no action at all.