Instagram has a new tool to stop self-harm and suicide

Instagram now provides resources to people struggling with depression and destructive behavior.
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Instagram isn't just about posting pictures and videos anymore, it's now working to save lives.

The photo-sharing app added a new feature this week that allows users to anonymously report posts that may be related to self-harm or suicide.

So if you see a friend or anyone in your Instagram feed post something that worries you – maybe a post suggests they're struggling with an eating disorder, hurting themselves or considering suicide – you can tap the three little dots above the post and click "Report."

You'll then select the option that says you're reporting the post because "It's Inappropriate," and from there you'll be able to choose the "Self Injury" category.

According to TechCrunch the reported person will receive a message that says, “Someone saw one of your posts and thinks you might be going through a difficult time. If you need support, we’d like to help.”

From there, people will be provided with a list of support options: to message or call a friend, get tips and support, or contact a helpline.

TechCrunch says 40 organizations worldwide have partnered to be involved with the helpline. And people will be connected to a helpline based on where they are located.

"These tools are designed to let you know that you are surrounded by a community that cares about you, at a moment when you might most need that reminder," Marne Levine, Instagram COO, told CNN Money.

And Instagram doesn't just offer help to reported posts. If a person searches a concerning hashtag, the user will get a message asking if the person needs help.

Last year, Facebook – which is Instagram's parent company – launched a very similar tool.

Facebook has more resources here.

Social media and depression

A study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh conducted a study and found that there is a correlation between social media us and your mood, Forbes reported earlier this year. It found that people who use social media more are more likely to be depressed.

One possible explanation is that people tend to post their best selves to social media and scrolling through “highly idealized representations of peers on social media" can make people feel like others are living happier and more successful lives.

And there's also the risk of cyber bullying.

Various social media platforms have already done things to discourage self-destructive behavior. Instagram previously banned the hashtag "thinspo" which may glorify eating disorders. Pinterest and Tumblr have also done similar things.

DoSomeThing.org says nearly 43 percent of kids have been bullied online. And 90 percent of teens say they've seen cyberbullying online but didn't do anything about it.

The organization says bullying victims are up to nine times more likely to consider committing suicide.

Last year, the suicide rate for adults in Minnesota was the highest on record. The Minnesota Department of Health says 726 people died by suicide in 2015 – so the rate was 13.1 per 100,000 people. Previously, the highest rate had been 13. That was set back in 1986.

If you're concerned about someone

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  • Do not leave the person alone.
  • Remove firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
  • Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.

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