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As a normal, unprivileged user, I wonder what I should do if I encounter a post on any SE site which contains signs of severe mental health problems like paranoia or persecution mania, but not necessarily any suicide notes.

Last time when I stumbled over such a post, I left a custom moderator flag explaining that I think the user has mental problems. It was marked helpful later and the post got deleted.

However, I would like to ask whether that was the right way to react or whether I could/should have done something else. I didn't really dare to leave a comment regarding their mental state, as I feared it might worsen the situation. What about technical comments, e.g. if I can explain that something they see as threat is actually normal and why - should I post that? Or just flag it and leave?

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  • Can I ask which SE site it was? What did the OP write? I don't understand why a total stranger on the internet would care about another stranger's mental problem.
    – Rathony
    Oct 2 '16 at 17:05
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    @Rathony As I said, the post is deleted already. It has been on Amateur Radio, a SmokeDetector report called my attention. And of course I care about my fellow humans as far as I can. Don't you? I don't want to risk being responsible for bad things somebody does to themselves or others, which is a considerable risk if somebody has mental problems. After all, the SE community is there to help each other. Oct 2 '16 at 17:14
  • Well, I am not against helping each other as I am helping others, too. But do you really think you can solve their problem by leaving a comment? Hmm... Thanks for letting me know the site exists. Let me take a look around. :-)
    – Rathony
    Oct 2 '16 at 17:24
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    Closely related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/268574/…
    – jscs
    Oct 2 '16 at 17:55
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    Also worth looking at even though it was prompted by suicidal talk: meta.programmers.stackexchange.com/q/6256
    – jscs
    Oct 2 '16 at 18:10
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    @JoshCaswell there is similar discussion right here at MSE: What's the official SE response to serious mentions of suicide in posts?
    – gnat
    Oct 2 '16 at 19:17
  • We're not really talking about suicide here though, so leaving a comment about suicide helplines would be more than inappropriate. Using the SE "Contact us" form might also be exaggerated, so only raising a custom mod flag remains as recommended action. Is that really all one should do? Oct 2 '16 at 19:21
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    I know you "ruled out" suicide, but to my mind, the important part of Shog's answer on Meta.Programmers is the idea that if you're not well-versed in handling $SERIOUS_ISSUE, whatever it may be, alerting a moderator is probably the best thing to do.
    – jscs
    Oct 2 '16 at 19:29
  • @JoshCaswell What can moderators do? Call the police? Come on...
    – Rathony
    Oct 2 '16 at 19:41
  • What can you do, @Rathony?
    – jscs
    Oct 2 '16 at 19:43
  • @JoshCaswell Nothing. Move on.
    – Rathony
    Oct 2 '16 at 19:44
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    Honestly you can't do anything. Mental health issues are very complex and you know next to nothing about the circumstances of the person in question. If the question should be closed then flag/vtc but there's nothing you can do specifically with regards to the posters mental health.
    – Cai
    Oct 2 '16 at 21:36
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    @Rathony Moderators are equipped to quickly contact the community manager team here at SE who, depending on the situation, have a set of processes used to handle what's going on. (Well, "quickly" may vary, but there's at least two avenues for mods to use that go directly to a CM whereas regular users don't have quite the same level of priority access.)
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Oct 3 '16 at 1:34
  • @AdamLear Well, I am not saying helping them is a bad idea, but that's applicable only when we assume they are telling the truth. The OP is asking about a severe level of paranoia or signs of other mental problems. As Cai mentioned, there is nothing we can or should do other than flag/vtc if it is off-topic. I saw a few of them, and they seemed to need someone to talk to.
    – Rathony
    Oct 3 '16 at 7:04
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Moderators are the sites' exception handlers. When there's a situation that normal channels can't resolve (voting, editing, flagging, etc.) it's the Moderators who need to step in.

I'd say you did exactly the right thing.

Also, to quote Adam Lear:

Moderators are equipped to quickly contact the community manager team here at SE who, depending on the situation, have a set of processes used to handle what's going on. (Well, "quickly" may vary, but there's at least two avenues for mods to use that go directly to a CM whereas regular users don't have quite the same level of priority access.)

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