This may not be a very popular opinion, but I wouldn't recommend doing anything further in potential suicide cases, and don't think such a feature is worthwhile to implement if the sole focus is "I need to contact the CM team about suicidal behavior." Let me explain why before anyone freaks out.
There's nothing further we can do.
Obviously, we moderators are usually not at all capable of handling such an issue...
Neither are we - nobody here is. I'm usually the person that sees all the existing suicidal user contacts that come into support. Honestly, I close most of them without further action because a concerned user has already posted a comment with pretty much all the same exact information we would send them in an email. There's really no point in repeating ourselves - if they're gonna follow that advice, they'll follow it.
Suicide prevention hotlines aren't actually effective anyways.
There's no scientific evidence that supports the idea that suicide hotlines actually prevent or lower suicide rates. At worst, they do absolutely nothing to help a person. For most, they make the person feel better for a few weeks before they become suicidal again. They rarely solve issues, and most people handling those issues are just volunteers with minimal or no training that tend to forget to even ask whether the person is having suicidal thoughts right now.
The only truly appropriate remedy for suicidal thoughts is an intervention with that person, which requires knowing that person's identity and can't be done over the phone. Unfortunately, we don't have the information necessary. We can't forward things we don't have onto the proper authorities, and there just really isn't anything we can do about the situation.
Let's look at these messages at their real value: making us feel better.
A lot of us are selfish. Maybe we don't realize it, but we are. Nobody wants to feel like they were partly responsible for the death of another person. But doing nothing when we see someone acting in suicidal ways drives us crazy - there has to be something we can do. And sending a kind message or linking to a hotline is that something for most people. It makes us feel like we did something to try and resolve the problem and that there is no further responsibility on our part. Sometimes that small action gives us satisfaction more than it helps the suicidal person.
Let's be perfectly clear: Failure to notify someone does not in any way make you responsible for a person's death by suicide. Of course it's upsetting when it does happen, when that person was typing right in front of you, but we need to be able to accept that not everything around us is in our direct control.
Better plan of action.
If you feel so inclined to do something, surely leave one of the canned comments and hope it helps them. There's nothing wrong with doing that. While it may not fix the problem, at least keeping a person going for a few more weeks could potentially be a turning point for them.
If there's some other ultra-specific issue that needs to be addressed and they have no profile on a site you moderate, I don't personally see any benefit to building in additional features at chat versus just sending us a standard contact form submission. That sounds like taking a sledge hammer to a nail.
Past that, in my opinion, the "suicidal user" contact option is pointless, not in any way "required" as people seem to believe, doesn't result in any meaningful action, and should probably just be removed at some point - it's just creating unnecessary noise in the system. It's better replaced with just a copy of what we would normally send to a user (which truthfully isn't much more than the canned comments in that other post) as a canned moderator message that moderators can send straight to users themselves and not need staff assistance at all, if they believe that would be useful over just commenting.
I don't mean to sound unsympathetic to suicide concerns, but we have to remember that we're dealing with completely anonymous people on the Internet that we simply cannot help in the way they need. The "suicidal user" option was a stop-gap to make everyone feel better. "I'm forwarding this on to the staff because they can do something." But it's not true. We're just as helpless as you are and can't do anything more than a moderator or a regular user could do. And that feature isn't worth development effort to expand if only to cover this use case.
I know some of this is hard to read and I'm probably bursting a lot of bubbles, but I think everyone here needs a little insight into how much "good" they're doing around this issue, and that creating a bunch of tools with suicidal users in focus is not very productive in an environment where we know nothing about those users.
- There's generally no reason to notify us of a suicidal user, especially if someone else has already provided advice to them on seeking help. We should just make our template message available as a moderator message.
- We cannot do anything more than anyone else on the site can do.
- Contacting us about suicidal users is mostly just noise that gets ignored because of those two above reasons, that we put up with because it makes people feel better.
- Expanding the contact CM tool into chat would mostly be a lot of work with very little benefit. What made the CM contact system on-site so "easy" to implement was that we just piggy-backed the existing moderator contact system and tweaked it to be private between CMs and moderators. But that existing tooling doesn't exist in chat. We're talking about a mountain of work.
Posted as a scholar actively studying psychology and not as an official stance of the company.