We now and then are faced with users who post questions in which they indicate to have suicidal thoughts, e.g., a user posts 'I'm suffering from X and wish/want/ am going to kill myself'. What do we do?

Steven Jeuris proposed to formulate a meta question and provide an answer there with an appropriate response. I wasn't happy with the idea, as one of our biggest problems are the self-helps, and we do not, in any way, want to leave a message that we're here to help suicidal people to come to terms. However, I'm still open to suggestions and feel free to answer below.

The main danger of leaving these questions open for comments/answers is that other users may make the situation worse, by close-voting, downvoting or providing otherwise negative feedback to a dangerously depressed person. That's why I personally would opt to immediately delete the question. However, doing nothing at all may leave a cry for help alone in the dark.

What to do with posts from suicidal people?

  • 1
    +2 - A well thought out question with a very good answer. Wish I could upvote more than once. Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 6:09
  • @ChrisRogers thanks, Chris
    – AliceD Mod
    Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 10:30

1 Answer 1


After consulting with Narusan from Medical Sciences*, they suggested to look at a post on this subject on meta proper, namely What's the official SE response to serious mentions of suicide or self-harm in posts?. Among informative stuff, they also provide ready-to-use custom comments. Given the US-centric approach of the answer, I rather prefer the international variant as provided in the answer:

It sounds like you’re going through a hard time. I’d really like to help you, but unfortunately, we’re not well equipped to do so here. Your best option is probably to call a suicide hotline. People are on call there to talk to people struggling with the same kind of issues you are, regardless of location. If calling is not good, you can chat with them live online. It might not help, but what’s the harm?

*Medical Sciences are dealing with equal amounts of self-help question, including those mentioning suicidal thoughts

  • so after posting the comment, what to do next? Would the question be closed or deleted? Asking "what's the harm" requires the question to be not deleted at least. But it directly contradicts with your last paragraph.
    – Ooker
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 7:33
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    That too is a good question @Ooker. The thing is, we are not here for suicide prevention. As pointed in this answer, we are in no way equipped and able to deal with that kind of issue. We can only do what we can do and nobody here should have to feel personally responsible for any actions carried out by the OP if it is handled well and with the utmost respect. I would say close for personal advice after leaving that comment, but it could be seen as harsh. Maybe a special close reason needs setting up for these situations using a variation of the comment supplied in this answer. Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 22:10
  • 3
    Just comment, then mod-close it. Other users should flag instantly for mod-attention.
    – AliceD Mod
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 5:41

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