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Last night on Mi Yodeya, someone posted a question that was basically a suicide note, along with the question of what Judaism thought about suicide. The question was put on hold very quickly, and several supportive comments were posted ("You've listed Los Angeles as your location. A local program that could probably offer a great deal of help is....").

Someone started a conversation in chat, which is how I discovered this question, asking about SE's official policy for posts with serious mentions of suicide or self-harm. I answered with a link to this SoftwareEngineering.meta question, and a CommunityBuilding.SE question, which was a HNQ question at some point, which was how I found out about the SoftwareEngineering.meta question (I do not have an account on programmers).
In any event, it turns out that our wise moderators had already contacted a community manager on that one, though we didn't find that out until later.

After searching MSE for an official position, I found that we do not yet have one. Hopefully this won't come up so often, but I feel that this should be made public here (significantly more public than SoftwareEngineering.meta) so that people will know what to do when this comes up.

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Scroll down for updated, ready-to-use comments.

I think Shog9's answer to the Meta Software Engineering question is good enough:

I hate to sound callous about this, but... This isn't a support group; y'all probably aren't trained to deal with the outpouring of grief and despair of someone you've never met and may have absolutely nothing in common with. I'm certainly not. Indeed, there's a decent chance that leaving a post like this around could end up just making things worse.

Therefore, I strongly recommend the following:

  1. Close the post as Off Topic, with a comment like this:

    It sounds like you're going through a really hard time. I'd really like to help you, but unfortunately, we're not well-equipped to do so here. Your best option is probably to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. People are on call there to talk to people struggling with the same kind of issues you are, regardless of location. US: +1-800-273-8255. If calling's not good, they can chat with you live online. Just go to this site, and you can talk with someone online from 10PM-6AM UTC: http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx It might not help, but what's the harm?

  2. Flag for a moderator who can lock or delete the question to prevent discussion from continuing in the comments.

  3. For any credible threat of bodily harm - whether targeted at the author themselves or someone else - use the contact us option at the bottom of any page on the site to let us know about this. If need-be, we'll follow up to make sure the situation is handled appropriately. Moderators can and usually should use the “contact community team” option in the “mod → actions” menu on the user’s profile page.

Comments

Ready-to-use (international)

It sounds like you’re going through a hard time. I’d really like to help you, but unfortunately, we’re not well equipped to do so here. Your best option is probably to call [a suicide hotline](http://suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html). People are on call there to talk to people struggling with the same kind of issues you are, regardless of location. If calling is not good, you can [chat with them live online](http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx). It might not help, but what’s the harm?

Ready-to-use (US)

It sounds like you’re going through a really hard time. I’d really like to help you, but unfortunately, we’re not well-equipped to do so here. Your best option is probably to call the [National Suicide Prevention Lifeline](http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/). People are on call there to talk to people struggling with the same kind of issues you are, regardless of location. US: +1-800-273-8255. If calling is not good, they can [chat with you live online](http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx). It might not help, but what’s the harm?

Inspiring examples

Here's two other comments (from the Mi Yodeya question) that can serve as templates for other comments:

Rochel please please take this opportunity to speak with someone you trust about these issues. We do not know you so cant help you personally but I believe with my entire heart that you have many wonderful things to add to this world. I strongly encourage you to find someone to talk these issues through with. It can be incredibly helpful. May God grant you much success and happiness – Double AA ♦

and

Rochel bas Esther, tears are literally flowing from my eyes right now at the thought that you are in such pain, and that you need help so badly that you are turning to a forum as ill-equipped as this one is to help you. Please get in touch with someone who can really help. You've listed Los Angeles as your location. A local program that could probably offer a great deal of help is the Aleinu Family Resource Center of the Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles. There's another program that has a 24-hour hotline. – Isaac Moses

  • The close reason template is a few characters too long. It would be much better if it could be shortened to actually work. – StrongBad Dec 29 '16 at 13:43
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    @StrongBad I didn't write that part of the answer, but I think that message was designed for the comment space. If you want to edit the answer to include a template that could fit the close reason, go for it. – Shokhet Dec 29 '16 at 16:23
  • @StrongBad I see what you did, there, but your edit is within the blockquote, which is a direct quote from Shog's post on another site. Perhaps your updated version of the template should be moved outside of that blockquote? – Shokhet Dec 29 '16 at 22:51
  • @Shog9 What are your thoughts about the blockquote, above? It is a quote from you, after all. – Shokhet Dec 29 '16 at 22:52
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    I don't see any reason to have a close reason for this. Leave a comment and flag for deletion or close as off-topic. If it is so common that a close reason becomes expedient, there may be a deeper issue somewhere. – Shog9 Dec 29 '16 at 22:58
  • @Shog9 I thought your original intention was for a comment, but I think that Strong Bad was considering a custom close reason under "Off Topic." – Shokhet Dec 29 '16 at 23:00
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    Also, @StrongBad, try to avoid using "we" unless you're actually referring to a specific group of which you are a member; it can come off as a bit impersonal or aggrandizing. We know what you mean, but someone who is already confused and lost may not. – Shog9 Dec 29 '16 at 23:04
  • @Shog9 original had I'd like to help, but we're... which is an odd mix. I thought having it be a custom OT close reason was better than a comment since it would be a little more prominent. – StrongBad Dec 30 '16 at 3:02
  • Yeah, could stand to be tweaked @StrongBad. I don't know that it's worth adding a standard close reason given the relative rarity of posts where this is necessary though. – Shog9 Dec 30 '16 at 16:48
  • Thanks for the edit, @wrz. You missed some formatting from Shog's answer (I did the same thing in the first version of this answer), so I've put that back in. Also, code formatting is (IMO) annoying to read and not so easy to copy, so I've made the blockquoted versions of the comments more easily copyable. – Shokhet Apr 16 '17 at 15:13
  • @Shokhet: At least in my browser, block quotes are extremely easy to copy: You move the mouse to the beginning, click, move a bit down, and release. And that was the entire purpose of the blockquotes: to be easy to copy. They were not intended for reading. – Wrzlprmft Apr 16 '17 at 15:20
  • @Wrzlprmft Huh. In my browser, the sections you had labeled for copying were code format, with the entire comment on one line, with a reeeeally long scroll bar going off to the right. (And anyway, why not have just one comment, both for reading and copying?) – Shokhet Apr 16 '17 at 15:22
  • @Shokhet: In my browser, the sections you had labeled for copying were code format, with the entire comment on one line, with a reeeeally long scroll bar going off to the right. – same for me. Nonetheless, it’s easy to copy. — And anyway, why not have just one comment, both for reading and copying? – because I do not want to read link syntax. (Either way, these are minor issues. Your variant is okay to use as well.) – Wrzlprmft Apr 16 '17 at 15:24
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    Is the advice of locking/deleting still current? Or is that just for cases where problematic comments are coming in from either the OP or other users? – Lilienthal Dec 25 '17 at 20:35
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    Uh...I'm not sure, @Lilienthal. I'd guess so (not sure what might have changed that?)...but maybe I'll see if Shog9 is in Tavern on the Meta, and ask him. This is essentially his answer, anyway. – Shokhet Dec 26 '17 at 2:12

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