#chatsafe: world-first guidelines helping young people talk safely about suicide

Posted 22nd August 2018

A new set of guidelines to support safe, online conversations about suicide have been launched yesterday by Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health.

Commissioned by Orygen, and developed in partnership with young people, #chatsafe: A young person’s guide for communicating safely online about suicide are the first youth-focused guidelines to be informed by evidence.

#Chatsafe are intended to support young people who might be responding to suicide risk or suicide-related content posted by others, those who might be looking for information about support or help for suicidal feelings, or young individuals who might want to share their own feelings and experiences with suicide through their online channels.

As well as providing support and guidance on how to communicate on posts, the guidelines also provide tips on appropriate language and images to use, how to share personal experience of suicidal behaviour, and guidance on how to respond to someone who may be suicidal.

#Chatsafe also aims to provide practical assistance for those who support young people such as parents, teachers and mental health professionals.

Dr Jo Robinson, head of suicide prevention research at Orygen said there previously had been little information available to help young people safely discuss suicide online.


“Young people use social media all the time to talk about suicide-related thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

“It’s really challenging, because although young people don't do that with any intent to cause harm or distress to others, we know that certain types of communication about suicide can lead to contagion or copycat-type instances. So rather than to take the view that you shouldn't talk about suicide on social media, we decided that it was important to develop some safety guidelines for young people who are talking online about this topic,” said Dr Robinson.

National suicide prevention organisation Everymind, which manages Mindframe and Life in Mind, partnered with Orygen on the guidelines.


“#Chatsafe is a great resource for providing guidance to young people in communicating safely about suicide online. Our Institute and the Mindframe team were proud to be involved in the development of these important guidelines to support our youth in having peer-to-peer social media conversations on the issue,” said Jaelea Skehan, Everymind Director.

“The guidelines are also another innovative tool to support the recently launched #YouCanTalk national suicide prevention campaign aimed at giving people the confidence to respond to friends and family when they need help and guide them to the right support services,” she said.

Marc Bryant, Suicide Prevention Program Manager at Everymind said having experts involved in the development of the world-first guidelines was important.


“Guidance from journalists, educators and Mindframe advisory groups under the expertise of our Director Jaelea Skehan has enriched the #chatsafe initiative to support safe online communications for young people.

“These guidelines provide a nice complement to our Mindframe resources for media and professional communicators on safe reporting, portrayal and communication about suicide and mental ill-health,” said Mr Bryant.

The work on #chatsafe is funded by the Australian Government, under the National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program.

The #chatsafe guidelines are available to download, and for more information on speaking about suicide visit Life in Mind.

#chatsafe events:


Orygen are holding a Webinar about #chatsafe tomorrow, 23 August from 2-3pm AEST, which includes an overview of the guidelines, how they were developed and the social media campaign to promote them.

Facebook live event

Join Orygen’s Dr Jo Robinson and youth advisor Rikki Battersby for a special Facebook live event at 7pm on Monday 27 August, where they’ll discuss the #chatsafe guidelines and answer online audience questions here.

Find out more information about the national #YouCanTalk suicide prevention campaign here.

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