Do’s and Don’ts: Safe Messaging

Do’s and Don’ts: Safe Messaging

“Smile” by be creator is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

When talking about mental health and suicide, how we talk about it is just as important as the conversation itself. By following some useful tips and carefully avoiding some common pitfalls, you can engage with others on social media about mental health in a more impactful, respectful, and successful way.

Do’s:

Write Conversationally. People are more receptive when they feel like they are connecting with a person and not just a brand or a social media account. Think of it as speaking face-to-face, rather than a press release.

Use People-First Language. This means describing someone with schizophrenia as “living with schizophrenia” as opposed to “schizophrenic.”

Don’ts:

Stigmatizing or Derogatory Language. This includes words like “crazy,” “psycho,” “nuts,” “lunatic,” “deranged,” etc. Also avoid “committed suicide” (associated with crimes) and “successful/failed suicide” Instead, use “suicide attempt,” “suicide death,” or “attempted/died by suicide.”

Stereotypical Imagery. We’ve all seen this one. To portray mental illness, photos are used of people looking tired, disheveled, or clutching their heads. Remember: most people living with mental illness show no outward signs of distress.

Descriptions and Images of Suicide Acts or Methods. Be respectful and avoid potential triggers such as images of guns, pills, or nooses, pictures or descriptions of the location of a suicide, or details about a suicide attempt or death.

These tips were provided courtesy of Team Up. For more information and tips like these, visit their website.

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