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noname223

Enlightened
Aug 18, 2020
1,401
I wondered what scientists are saying about the influence of suicide forums. I could not find an English article. Though I found a very differentiated paper about suicide forums in German language.
[H3] Suizidalität und Internet: Zwischen Gefährdung und Hilfe[1]: DGVT [/H3]
www.dgvt.de
If I make any mistakes in the translation/understanding I will not not take any responsibility. I try it as good as possible. The article is very long and I skipped some parts which were not important. They did a lot of examples what is posted in suicide forums and showed messages.

I try to sum up interesting points:

Most suicide information on the internet are from suicide counseling websites. So more or less official help websites. Only a small amount of information comes from suicide forums. "This is an aspect which is frequently kept quiet about from dramatized media coverage. More often spectacular individual cases from partner suicides are covered and the German existing suicide forums were generalized as places for people who "do self-murder". "(it is used a pejorative term)

(Das ist ein Aspekt, den dramatisierende Medienberichte häufig unterschlagen. Vielmehr werden spektakuläre Einzelfälle von verabredeten Suiziden im Netz aufgriffen und die im deutschsprachigen Web existierenden Suizidforen generalisiert zu »Tummelplätzen für Selbstmörder«.)

The behavior of the forum masters (chiefs of the forum) is often decisive for the discussion climate in such suicide forums. Though often they are not needed because the members know how to behave and folllow the rules.

There is no clear evidence that suicide forums cause more suicides. But the paper is not clear about this point. They are ambivalent about that.

The general potential of the internet concerning self-help when someone faces different kind of illnesses is evaluated by experts as overall positive. Experts see chances for suicide prevention through the internet.
(Werden das generelle Potenzial des Internets zur Selbsthilfe bei verschiedenen Störungen und Problembereichen sowie die Chancen zur Suizidprävention mittels dieses Mediums in Fachkreisen insgesamt positiv eingeschätzt)

The discussion about the harm is more heterogeneous. However most of them are alarming voices. The judgment about it is often only from hypothical thoughts or simple anecdotes. Critics claim especially teenagers would use those forums to learn about new methods. Some positions disagree with that and argument that those forum can have effects of suicide prevention or destigmatizing a very stigmatized topic.

For the users the most important aspect for users of those forums would be constructive attributes so for example emotional relief or mutual help. The possibility of talking about suicide methods would only very important to a small amount of people. (I personally doubt that when I am thinking about this forum though). (Die Befunde zeigen eindeutig, dass User an solchen Foren konstruktive Eigenschaften wie emotionale Entlastung und gegenseitige Hilfe schätzen und die Möglichkeit, sich über Suizidmethoden auszutauschen, nur von einer sehr geringen Minderheit als positive Funktion herausgestellt wird.)

The most postings were stories what lead to the suicidal thoughts and description of the own problems. Or they want a distraction etc.
Answers of members which encouraged explicitly incited suicide were very seldom. Most comments in those forums were comforting and supportive.

(Die Auskünfte dazu, wie häufig die User welche Arten von Reaktionen auf die eigenen Postings erhielten und in welchem Ausmaß ihnen die verschiedenen Formen von Feedback halfen, ergaben, dass die Reaktionen der Community eher unterstützend und konstruktiv waren. Entsprechend wurden auch verständige und tröstende Antworten/Reaktionen, ebenso wie Ablenkung und Aufheiterung als am meisten hilfreich empfunden. Antworten, die Suizidwünsche bestärken und forcieren, kamen so gut wie nie vor und wurden als überhaupt nicht hilfreich erlebt.)


It is not clear whether suicide forums reduce suicidal thoughts.

I jump to the conclusion:
So called suicide forums give many people the opportunity to share anonymous their desperation and hopelessness with other people who also struggle. So that they can get support. In situation of crisis the concerned people often don't have the feeling they cannot trust the people in their environment. The exchange with people who feel similar can give emotional relief and starting a process to seek help outside of the internet. Several studies from Germany or Japan confirm this conclusion.

Members of those forums often encourage each other to seek help by therapy or consultations. Or to seek help by their family or friends to share their problems. The often feared effect those forums would lead to addiction or escape to the virtual world can be right in individual cases but this is not very often the case. (By the way exactly this argument was made by the NYT as far as I know)

(Forumsteilnehmer weisen sich häufig gegenseitig auf solche Beratungs- und Therapieangebote hin, ermutigen einander, Freunden oder Familienangehörigen die eigenen Probleme mitzuteilen. Der oftmals befürchtete Effekt, Internetcommunitys würden zu einer Flucht ins Virtuelle führen und sogar Sucht auslösendes Potenzial haben, kann in Einzelfällen zutreffen, ist aber nicht die Regel.)

The often articulated wish to close all suicide forums by the government has not only a dramatized character moreover it would take the opportunity of many people to get help during a crisis which is available 24/7.
Though the article sees method discussion critical and warns about heriozation of suicide. In Germany there is no evidence that the internet caused more suicides. (This was also a claim by the NYT. Something I had a lot of doubts about. They showed these statistics that suicides would rise and insinuated SS would be the reason for that. I honestly think this is absolutely bullshit. The main reason is in my opinon the corona crisis. So many people say their brain is fucked by the lockdowns. This explanation makes way more sense.)


I hope this post helps anyone it caused me a lot of work. But is also was informative for me.
 
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Depressed Cat

Experienced
Jan 4, 2022
226
This is a balanced article. I'm glad this German publication gets it 👍 (unlike the detestable NYT, PBS etc.)

The anonymity offered by pro-choice suicide forums is of great help to the suicidal. When people in the real world (including loved ones) don't understand or dismiss one's suicidal feelings, where does one turn to? The virtual world, of course!

The concentration on method talk is a deliberate ploy at vilification by the anti-choice horde. Even without pro-choice sites, it's very easy to find methods to kill oneself by doing a simple Google search. However, such information is incomplete, and if one attempts to CTB using incomplete information, the method is likely to fail and end up causing permanent damage and even more suffering.

The disgustingly biased articles (such as the one by NYT) deliberately leave out the recovery section and how members offer much-needed emotional support to those in distress. This is done deliberately, because they want to create the narrative that pro-choice sites drive & encourage people to commit suicide, which is completely false!
 
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noname223

Enlightened
Aug 18, 2020
1,401
I find way more studies and literature about suicide forums in German language than in English. I think they are very interesting. Especially not only seeing this phenomenon through the lense of journalists instead learning some facts from scientists.
Though the post yesterday was really hard work to translate/mediate that all.
In English you find more studies about the influence of social-media on suicidality. I don't think that would be an accurate case for a comparison with SS.
 
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Wisdom3_1-9

he/him/his
Jul 19, 2020
1,510
This was very interesting. I recently started a new job as an editor and I wish I could publish an article that dealt with suicide forums in a balanced, non-judgemental light. I know no one in the US would ever go for it, though.