Offering support to suicidal individuals in an online support group.
Gilat, Itzhak~~Tobin, Yishai~~Shahar, Golan
The objective of this study was to reveal response strategies to suicidal messages and to examine the relationships between the messages and types of responses in an online support group moderated by volunteers within an interpersonal perspective of the Action Theory. This theory posits that individuals actively impact their social environment, which in turn shapes their development and mental health. In the study, 120 interactions were analyzed to identify characteristics of the message and strategies of response. The analysis yielded 8 strategies employed by the volunteers in response to the suicidal messages. Hypothesized relationships between those strategies and characteristics of suicidal messages were found. The results suggest that online support groups enable suicidal individuals to generate an environment that provides emotional support, and offer alternatives to the suicidal view.