As a 15-year-old girl, I see countless videos and comments on social media that contain suicidal themes (Meta executive apologises over inappropriate content seen by Molly Russell, 26 September). Most are not directly concerning, but are simply open thoughts and honesties about the trials of teenage life. Scrolling through these can feel like a warm, safe space: people my age expressing the beauty of vulnerability, and coming together against the world, to not be afraid of feeling. However, these spaces can quickly turn cold if one scrolls too far.
Deciding what is safe for people my age isn’t as simple as removing things that “promote or encourage suicide or self-harm”. Discussions of such matters that are still allowed can affect mental health.
Discussions I frequently see along the lines of “I’m so tired” or “I can’t do this any more” with melancholy music, unintentionally romanticise depression. They do not suggest ways to change such feelings, but simply state them with no purpose other than to be agreed with and liked. You will often see other young people in the comments of these videos, sharing reasons to “stay” or telling others they are loved. That shouldn’t be our job.
It’s good to share your thoughts, but when negative thoughts are seen frequently, it can affect those reading them. Safe spaces should be open, balanced and healthy.
In the UK, the youth suicide charity Papyrus can be contacted on 0800 068 4141 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and in the UK and Ireland Samaritans can be contacted on freephone 116 123, or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 800-273-8255 or chat for support. You can also text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis text line counsellor. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at befrienders.org