Save children from viewing photographs of self-harm on social media

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You may have seen in the news recently, that social media sites are making minimal attempts to protect users from viewing extremely harmful and explicit images of suicide related images and self-harm. Children as young as thirteen years old are able to search for these images, which is heart breaking to think about.

A pro-community glorifies having a mental illness, and encourages users to harm themselves continually. Social media accounts use specific hashtags to connect with people that share similar experiences. The hashtags focus on different mental health disorders and words related to suicide. Users in a pro-community post harmful images, documenting their journey of self-harm. I was shocked to discover the amount of profiles that encourage people to hurt themselves more. Researching for this blog post was an emotional experience, and one of the hardest things that I have ever done. However, this is something that needs to be talked about, and as a mental health advocate I feel that I need to start the conversation, today.
I contacted one Instagram user that was previously part of a pro-community. They told me about their experiences and struggles with a diagnosis of depression and bipolar disorder. Regrettably, they did promote self-mutilation using Instagram, which was a coping mechanism that they found to battle their own demons at the time. They felt a lack of control over their actions, as a result of the trauma which they received in their life. They stated 'I was in a state of mind that made me very suicidal, and to the point where I didn't care what I did or said, because I'd eventually be dead'.

Children are being taught that self-harm is a coping mechanism; that depression is something 'desirable'; that their struggle isn't 'real' unless they have been admitted to hospital more than ten times... In these communities, users are so mentally unwell that they can't rationalise their thoughts. They are invested in a competition between profiles, of who can be more ill, until the pain of mental illness causes them to take their life.

Reputable brands such as M&S have publicly declared that they will stop advertising on Instagram, as they were unaware that their advertisements are being placed next to images of self-harm. It is extremely saddening that the loss of a life could not prompt Instagram to implement changes, but their loss of money is enough to do so.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Please share it, so that further people can add to the conversation and urge social media platforms to make greater change. To read more about how this is harmful for our children, click on this link: https://www.casestreetx.com/social-media-please-stop-condoning-suicide-and-self-harm/