About an hour ago by this time, a user with clear suicidal ideation posted on Medical Sciences:

[........... preamble] loneliness [....] This is my own decision taken myself [....] I want to die in peace. Is there any methods doctors?

This is tragic of course that anyone feels like that, but a sad fact of life that many shall at some point. Many, as I understand it are crying out to be listened to, and a kind word can perhaps make all the difference. I'm not trained in this area, nor confident that I wouldn't say the very wrong thing.

I flagged for the community team with a brief explanation, and a local mod the same. Being a Sunday, the post may remain up for some time, so far with a few views.

This is a welfare matter for not only the user concerned, but any young or vulnerable people (logged-in or not) who may read it, empathise and start to explore similar ideation.

Is there any way that keywords such as "suicide" linked with "loneliness" and perhaps others might be restrained from being published until approved as suitable for consumption of a general audience, including those under the age for registration? (Thus the [spam-detection] tag.)


2 Answers 2


This is a welfare matter for not only the user concerned, but any young or vulnerable people (logged-in or not) who may read it, empathise and start to explore similar ideation.

There's nothing stopping the mods on that site from deleting the post now, for exactly that reason. The policy, already linked to you in comments, has comments clarifying that these posts don't need to linger until a CM can take a look.

As for the automatic detection, it comes with the same trouble everything else about automatic keyword detections comes with:

  • you won't be able to catch everything, having seen several of these posts, most don't even outright mention suicide at all, but talk about wishing they were never born, life being futile at this point or having nothing left to remain alive for. An automatic filter like you describe can't be that accurate, especially not if it only focuses on word combinations that involve the word suicide.
  • there's a (pretty big) chance for false positives. All for the above may be put in a post on e.g. IPS as someone else's words or thoughts.
  • people will work around the keyword detection by just using different characters (think noob vs. n00b) as soon as they realize a filter is blocking their post and their chance at attention.

Besides that, who is going to get the privilege to review these posts before they go live? What is going to guarantee that the user reviewing is still not going to be a vulnerable one?

I'd take the false positives on IPS as I realize it's not as common on other sites to have posts like that, but the very low accuracy your proposed filter will have, makes it just another layer of useless complexity in my opinion. Close the post as off-topic, copy-paste one of the ready to use comments from this answer, and (flag for a moderator to) delete the post if necessary and escalate to CMs. No need to add more complexity to a pretty straightforward procedure for handling these posts.

  • 1
    You're right, I'd forgotten how d3vi0u5 people can be at getting attention. Re "vulnerable", I almost wrote "impressionable". I must admit not having looked into the propagation of suicidal ideation from a research perspective, but remember one paper about violent-imagery in general increasing it. My question, I posted in haste because of the linked post, but I'll put some more thought into it, see if I can't come-up with something more of a workable strategy (once establishing if it's really needed).
    – W.O.
    Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 15:48

People that are feeling they want to take their lives must not be just filtered out. I know that they should not really be posting here. But, they are only looking or seeking help. Filtering the conversation out is not the proper thing to do. What if that person posting is your little sister, should we just ignore her so she would kill herself, or direct her to someone that would or could help.

  • 3
    The posts will be removed eventually, your proposed solution is not only not a workable solution but it's also not helping the situation any. I'm grossly offended by you playing on the man here. We don't involve family in comparisons, that's wildly inappropriate.
    – Mast
    Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 16:39
  • 8
    "Filtering the conversation out is not the proper thing to do." Removing the post is necessary because 1) removing the post does not prevent a Community Manager from contacting the user, 2) removing the post prevents/limits suicide contagion, and 3) it prevents bad actors from goading the person into doing it.
    – BSMP
    Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 17:28
  • 4
    ...and 4) it may well be a troll anyway. Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 4:29

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