Instagram has launched a new tool designed to reach and prevent users at risk of harming themselves and/or committing suicide.
"#PerfectlyMe is a new initiative that celebrates the strength of the support networks that have grown steadily across Instagram, and the strength of individuals in these communities," Instagram spokesperson Carolyn Merrell said in an e-mail.
If one of the app’s 500 million users search for hashtags with keywords indicating self-harm or suicide, Instagram will now display a message offering resources designed to prevent injury.
Users may decide to click for support, see posts anyway, or cancel their search.
“Posts with words or tags you’re searching for often encourage behavior that can cause harm and even lead to death,” the Instagram message displays. “If you’re going through something difficult, we’d like to help.”
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Suicide claims the lives of more than 42,000 American's each year.
People can also anonymously report content that indicates self-harm and send a message to poster that someone is thinking about them.
If a user opts for support, they will be routed to Instagram’s parent company, Facebook’s resource page. It directs users to message or call a friend they trust, contact a helpline for support, and offer tips and support for ways individuals can help themselves.
In a September 12 letter, titled “Keeping Comments Safe on Instagram” from the company's CEO and Co-Founder Kevin Systrom, he explained the social network is working to maintain a positive and safe environment especially in comments on photos and videos.
“To empower each individual, we need to promote a culture where everyone feels safe to be themselves without criticism or harassment,” Systrom wrote. “It’s not only my personal wish to do this, I believe it’s also our responsibility as a company.”
The app also recently introduced a keyword moderation tool that anyone can use. The feature allows users to automatically hide comments they consider inappropriate by tagging individual words.
Sacramento County has its own crisis hotline serving people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the Greater Sacramento Region.