We Can't 'Just Ignore the Trolls' Who Comment on Suicide Prevention Posts
We’ve all run into them on the internet. Those social media users who seem to have set up an account for the sole purpose of commenting on posts and seeing how much of a rise they can get out of someone by saying something hurtful. Most use the term “troll” to describe these miscreants, but I say we call them what they are: bullies. According to Dictionary.com, a bully is “a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.” This definition fits precisely what these volatile people engage in online. It also explains why I can’t just take the advice to ignore them. They say if you ignore them, they’ll go away. But their words are already on the screen. They’re out there. They still hurt.
There is one particular type of troll that cannot be ignored. Because of the field I work in, I pay attention to the stories I see on social media regarding mental health. Recently, I’ve been reading many posts and articles relating to suicide prevention and awareness. I’m astounded with what I see. By simply reviewing the comments on a video about a man in China who has made it his mission to help those who are thinking of ending their lives by jumping off a particular bridge, I can see bullies that cannot be ignored.
Comments were made in response to people pointing out that the video needed a trigger warning, as it showed triggering footage. Here is a snippet of what I saw:
- “Trigger warnings are bull****”
- “Deal with it.”
- “F*** off, go back to your safe space, and learn to deal with real life.”
More horrific and serious comments were made relating to suicide in general.
Reading these words is heart-wrenching. I can’t even imagine how it may affect someone who may be contemplating suicide or struggling with depression. These “trolls” are sitting behind their computer screens, not realizing that there are real people out there reading
these words. Maybe they do realize it. Maybe they are just so heartless that they don’t care. I don’t like to think about it. What I do like to do is take action.
I speak up for that suicidal person who is reading those words and thinking, “You know what, they are right… no one would care if I was gone.” I speak out and educate others. I speak out and comfort those who are hurting. Sometimes, I just leave the link and phone number to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline as a response to someone’s ignorant comment. At other times, I provide information based on my experiences or I provide links to articles that give more information. I am sometimes met with more ignorance. But that’s OK. I’ve put it out there. I’ve educated someone. I’ve given someone a resource or a person to turn to for help. If we all continue to stand up to the bullies on social media regarding this issue, we can make an impact in ways we may never have imagined. We could even save lives.
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Thinkstock photo by dan177