What should I do as a Moderator when I encounter situations regarding self-harm and suicide?


1 Answer 1


Situations that should be reported

Please escalate any situation you come across where you suspect potential for self-harm, even if the user does not explicitly talk about considering suicide directly. This can include direct claims of suicide or bodily harm, but also other more subtle things.

If something feels off, feel free to escalate - it's better to be overly cautious. The above guidance is intentionally broad, to give you more room to exercise your judgment.

Further guidance can be found on the moderator team.

How to report it

Please use the "Contact community team" option under "Actions" on the user's Mod dashboard. Then select "Suicidal user" on the next screen. This is considered an emergency situation for the Community Team, and escalating it will ping the CM on duty who will reach out to the user.

We will not contact local law enforcement and do not recommend that you do so in the US (it may vary from country to country; if you're unsure if it's a good idea in your country, we don't recommend doing it either). This has been confirmed to us after discussing with experts in the field as a generally bad option, which seems to be supported by this answer here on MSE.

Should I engage further?

You don't have to - our moderators are not trained counselors and we do not expect them to engage and deal with the situation. Escalate it to a CM and you can move on. If you'd like to engage further, you can - the aforementioned answer has good instructions on some things to take in consideration if you choose to.

Please do not discuss these situations in chat rooms, particularly in The Teachers’ Lounge. If you need help, do not hesitate to contact one of the Community Managers for assistance.

  • 3
    When I look at the answer you linked to, there is another answer to it's question which I feel might even be harmful. In cases where people visit your linked answer, and for some reason end up at the other answer to that question, they might take counterproductive actions in their good faith (as it is the accepted answer and highly upvoted). I generally oppose to deleting answers for being wrong, but in this case I feel an exception might be needed.
    – Luuklag
    Commented Dec 2, 2020 at 20:01
  • 4
    Another one that I didn't notice earlier: This post makes no mention of actually handling whatever was posted on the site/in the chatroom. The 'old' policy Luuklag mentions as being possibly harmful suggests closing, deleting and a generic comment explaining these actions, then escalating. Are moderators now expected to just escalate and leave the post around until a CM finally has time to come and handle it? Or is it still recommeded to just clean up the mess ASAP?
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 8:08
  • 4
    @Tinkeringbell you can still close/delete as appropriate for each site, it's just not mandated by the policy. Some questions mentioning it may be on-topic and moderators may want to leave them, that's okay too.
    – Cesar M StaffMod
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 15:37
  • On engagement, I understand that "moderators are not trained counselors", I am not, but are CMs? Does a welfare escalation actually get this in front of somebody trained to deal with it?
    – Oli
    Commented Mar 22 at 9:39

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