Proposal: Mind

Within the challenge of talking about mental health, there may very well be people in need of immediate help. Is there anything we can do to make sure that if people come to this site in desperation, in physical danger, they can get the emergency help they need?

  • 1
    On a small site, no. If they have access to internet, they'll probably have access to a telephone where they can call emergency services (911).
    – Luke_0
    Commented May 14, 2013 at 22:56
  • Internet and telephone are independent things... Commented May 17, 2013 at 16:05
  • if your question pertains to a survival situation ...... surfing the internet won't help , calling the police would !!
    – Nitin4873
    Commented May 19, 2013 at 16:43
  • 1
    Not sure if you guys got the gist of what I was getting at. I meant if someone was having serious suicidal thoughts, would there be any way the community could help make sure this person got help?
    – Jordan
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 12:12
  • Well, calling the police because you're having a mental breakdown may well lead to you being killed, actually, @NSD. I've heard of that happening more than once in the USA, and I wouldn't trust the police in other countries much more. Commented Dec 7, 2013 at 19:28

2 Answers 2


I'm not a huge advocate for help-over-the-internet, but there are a few things you can do when you suspect someone needs quick help:

  • Recommend the user to get personal help from a professional, in real life
  • Invite the user to chat to discuss it, if you think you can help
  • Be nice, as you should be to everyone

I think it's very important this will be discussed on the site meta, and that there is one generally agreed code of conduct.

We could also use a discussion on how to detect these people efficiently.

  • 2
    I strongly disagree with the point of inviting them to discuss it. We ARE NOT professionals, and getting involved in a conversation with someone in genuine mental angst can do more harm than good. Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 15:01
  • @AlexanderTroup I agree with you, that's why I wrote: "if you think you can help" - this point should be taken seriously.
    – user72809
    Commented Nov 8, 2013 at 9:41
  • 3
    I really don't think Your own personal judgement covers the criteria required to help someone with a mental disorder. Unless you are either certified or have very, very significant experience, 'I reckon I can help' just doesn't cut it. Remember here that we are dealing with someone that has an altered mental state. Unless you have a clear conception of what that implies and entails to do with how they perceive the world, you're going into a potentially harmful situation. It's not like it's just a bad day for them or that they're just needing a wee pick me up. Commented Nov 8, 2013 at 11:04
  • And remember on top of that, We're dealing with a community driven, anyone can join site. If you think everyone will take the time to follow the rules, and be as stringent about their communication as we're suggesting, it's just not going to happen! Commented Nov 8, 2013 at 11:06

People who are considering an action that will harm themselves or another have been known to reach out to internet communities. Lives have been saved by posters contacting local law enforcement. That said, this is so serious that any official policy will have to be reviewed by SE's lawyers. But, I propose the following

  1. User flags the post. This should be it's own flag. Example:

    ...it is a threat to the health and safety of the poster or another person.

  2. Moderator reviews post and forwards notification to SE.

  3. The poster's IP address and the content of the post should be forwarded to local law enforcement if possible.
  4. The post should be locked while the content is under review and, after the review is completed, the post should be deleted.

There are two outstanding issues. First, even if the user thinks the post is a troll, it should still be reported. SE staff needs to decide how to handle it. Second, it should be made clear the consequences of making a false threat or responding inappropriately to a false threat.

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