The internet is technically defined as the system that connects billions of different devices across the world. A “network of networks,” it is countless small invisible links that stretch from hundreds of feet to hundreds of miles. That is not, however, how we define the internet. Very few of us know how it works, but we all know why we use it, and one of the main reasons is social media. It allows us into a virtual world, where we can find resources that otherwise we wouldn’t have.
Social media can be a main source of support or self discovery. For people who are constantly bullied at school, there are uplifting and inspirational online messages to reinforce self-esteem and self-love. Someone who is questioning his or her identity can find information and read stories about people going through similar experiences. A beloved family member or friend can keep in contact through Facebook or email.
There are times when social media can even save lives. Often it’s just through weather warnings for storms and other natural disasters, but there are occurrences when internet communities can band together to save a person who exhibits warning signs of mental illness, and provide that person with the support he or she needs. Just last year, a teenager from New Jersey posted about thoughts of suicide on his Facebook page. Within hours, through the outreach worried friends and family, a cop also took to social media to reach out to the teen. He responded, and was able to receive the help he needed.
There are many resources online that exist to help anyone who needs it. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has partnerships with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and most other social media sites that can make it easier for you to help a friend in need connect to support. Find out how to help a friend online. Know that we can always extend a helping hand, even through a computer screen.