Science and Technology News

Monday, January 25, 2010

Harnessing New and Social Media to Prevent Suicide

January 25, 2010 - Another breakout session featured at the 2010 Suicide Prevention Conference was a lively and informative session centered on New and Social Media titled Harnessing New and Social Media to Prevent Suicide. The goal of the conversation was to understand how social media can serve as a powerful means to prevent suicide and the discussion began with a simple question:

What is Social Media?
Social Media is defined as an online set of tools that allows anyone with basic computer skills to tell their stories using the internet to create a shared community experience both online and in-person. Online social media forums can be found such as:

• Blogs Example: DCoE Blog
• Networking sites Example: DCoE Facebook Page
• Videos Example: You Tube
• Photo Sharing Example: Flickr
• Wikis Example: Wikipedia

Shared online communities contain a group of people with common interests who connect online to: learn, play, work, organize and socialize. Online communities like those connected with suicide prevention can galvanize large or small groups of survivors, friends, families, researchers and educators locally or around the globe into a unified conversation to share important information and create supportive relationships.

Statistically, social media is proving to be a relevant tool, not a passing fad, which is used to provide health information to support suicide prevention efforts.

• Over 8 million online users seek health information daily and half of those people are searching for information for a friend or family member
• 23% of Internet users are searching for mental health information
• 35% of adults have profiles on social networking sites

Recent examples of online suicide prevention conversations were highlighted. The most prominent example of suicide prevention was the case of a British teenager who was saved by a friend on Facebook when he threatened suicide. Other examples supported how social media creates a community where users take care of each other.

Panel speakers Eileen Zeller, MPH, SAMHSA; Kenneth Norton, LICSW, National Alliance on Mental Illness New Hampshire; and LTC Ashleah Bechtel, Army National Guard moved the conversation to showcase online prevention efforts.

Resource highlights included:
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
• Army OneSource
• Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury

As Social Media continues to move mainstream so can the conversation on suicide prevention in order to educate, inform and create understanding.

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