Can Social Media Be Used for Military/Veteran Suicide Prevention?

social media suicide prevention

By Debbie Gregory.

Suicide prevention often relies on the power of human connection. And since more and more, that connection is moving online, could social media play a role in reducing the alarming rate in which those who have served commit suicide?

In a study called “Indicators of Suicide Found on Social Networks” researchers discovered that those who died by suicide were most likely to show indications of hopelessness, social withdrawal and insomnia the year before, and in the month leading up to the suicide, they were more likely to discuss distress, relationship issues and religious affiliation.

“These clues on social media are very consistent with what we see are the warning signs in life — expressing their intent to die, hopelessness, a sense of being a burden and having no purpose in the world. It’s just another way for us to communicate,” said Dan Reidenberg, the executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education.

Last October, our blog featured an article called “Plagued by Suicide,” which touched on the story of the Second Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment who call themselves “the Forgotten Battalion.” Out of the 1,200 Marines who deployed together, at least 13 have committed suicide. Veterans of the unit, tightly connected through social media, would sometimes learn of the deaths nearly as soon as they happened.

The surviving veterans of the battalion depend on one another for survival. Using free software and social media, they have created a quick-response system that allows them to track, monitor and intervene with some of their most troubled comrades.

The Veterans Crisis Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 800-273-8255, press 1. Services also are available online at www.veteranscrisisline.net or by text, 838255.

Do you think there are enough resources available to military members and veterans to make a difference and stem this alarming

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

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