We seem to generate a lot of questions mentioning that they OP is "depressed" and some that indicate they are "suicidal".

This worries me.

Other than telling them to seek professional help, should we do something else? Perhaps there is a link to a hotline or other help we should include?

I don't feel comfortable actually answering any questions from someone who needs immediate help.


3 Answers 3


Follow the advice given in this main meta post. Summarised:

  1. (Vote to) Close the post as Off-topic with a custom close reason, templates at the link

  2. Flag for moderator attention

  3. For any credible threat of bodily harm targeted at the author or anyone else, use the contact option at the bottom of every page to contact StackExchange directly, referencing the post.

If we as moderators become aware of a user expressing suicidal thoughts we contact the community team and may sometimes close, lock or delete the original post if necessary.

Please do flag these posts for our attention whenever you see them.

  • 4
    Will do. Thanks. Commented Dec 25, 2017 at 23:12
  • 1
    I understand where that advice comes from but having your question closed is pretty demoralising even when you're feeling good. It just makes you feel bad about yourself that people are going out of their way to put you down. Part 2 + 3 are very good, they definitely need the support. Just don't think closing someones question is going to make them feel better in any way. There's more important issues at hand than peoples Stack Exchange moral high horse.
    – Andre
    Commented Jan 7, 2018 at 0:55
  • 1
    @Andre That's why you're supposed to leave a comment explaining why you closed the question. The main reason is to prevent well-meaning answers that given the nature of the situation cannot hope to be comprehensive and which we can't guarantee won't do more harm than good. As Kilisi mentioned in his answer and comments and as the linked question states we are simply not equipped to provide the help these people need which is why should close. Locking/deleting has the same motivation but is in my view usually unnecessary and something I avoid for the reasons you give.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Jan 7, 2018 at 9:02
  • I understand this is the policy. Any chance we can get an explanation of why this is the policy? Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 21:35
  • @IDrinkandIKnowThings Well I think originally this is what the community settled on as the best approach. Since the CM team has presumably adopted this I guess you could call it "the policy" but if you want more of an explanation than what's been written here and on main meta I think you'll have to ask them.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 0:01
  • Thank you, that is the direction of the CM team was the answer I was looking for. Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 14:53

As someone who has felt suicidal in the past, besides reminding people to get professional help, it can be useful to wish them good luck or send positive energy to do so. It might look like you are doing nothing useful here, but to someone feeling that bad, a bit of empaty can be a great help to actually get some help.

  • I agree with you. People in such situation craves a bit of empathy. Closing their question, and asking them to go away is probably going to make them feel even worser.
    – user47813
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 18:11

Advocating they seek professional help is ALL we should do. I see nothing positive in getting involved in any way.

  • 1
    Yep, gotta step away from these...
    – Neo
    Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 16:58
  • 2
    Thats cold. You see nothing positive from giving some sort of response to a sucidal person besides "I can't help you"? I am not going to argue that SE implement a help protocol for suicidal people, but the way you write sounds unnecessarily cold. Lives are at stake, lives that can be saved. I am assuming good faith - it is probably unintentional? I'd advise rewriting the last sentence. Maybe you mean there is a risk for doing more harm than good?
    – Stian
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 10:18
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    @StianYttervik it isn't cold to me, but my English isn't great. 99%+ of people who would come to stackexchange and talk about going sideways on life would not be serious. The 1% or less that are need professional help, as a non pro I could trigger a death, there is no positive side that would outweigh that..
    – Kilisi Mod
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 12:55
  • 2
    @StianYttervik he's right, and it's not cold. If you get involved with someone who is suicidal, you could push them over the edge with your good intentions. It calls for a professional, Lillenthal is correct, contact SE staff, and do nothing more. do not engage, you could do more harm than good. Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 15:12
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    @Stian In addition to what The Snark Knight says, we have an additional problem in that we aren't sitting across the table from the "suicidal" person, and thus, are in no position to offer them a shoulder to cry on. We are conversing with them in a text only format, and there is a huge risk of our good intentions getting misunderstood because they cannot see our body language. Even a seemingly harmless remark like, "things will get better, buddy, don't give up" can trigger bad memories and drive the person over the edge.
    – Masked Man
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 1:19
  • 1
    Nothing cold about it and his advice is spot on. When you start thinking that you're in a position to do something about mental health issues other than referring to a real professional, people can die. This isn't hyperbole. Nobody here is qualified to give one iota of advice except for resources for them to seek actual help. There comes a time when we on the Internet need to stop pretending we're experts in everything or even have a valid opinion on something and let the professionals handle it. This is one of those times.
    – Chris E
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 21:05

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