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I am currently in a leadership position of a small gaming/online community. To give you a sense of scale, we have about 70 people on Discord, and about 10 in our core group.

In the past we've had 2 members of our community attempt suicide and last Sunday we've had a member of our core group attempt sucide. They contacted me about it today, told me they were on their way to a psychiatric hospital and asked me to disclose this to the other people in our group.

My question is what the best way to go about this is, as this is a really delicate topic and I don't want to mess this up.

Edit to clarify: I don't just want to pass the information along, but I also want to create an environment where anyone else in the community having thoughts like that in the future will feel like they can approach me or other community members for help before anything happens

My goals are to:

  • Disclose the incident in a respectful way to the core group
  • Convey to the group the ability to always talk to me
  • Build a support network in the group
  • Discuss ways to get through tough times

My anti-goals are:

  • I don't want to make anyone feel called out
  • I don't want to open old wounds for the 2 member who attempted suicide before
  • I don't want to come off pushy

I am sorry if this is not quite on-topic, but I really don't know where to seek help with this.

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    $\begingroup$ For me it’s on topic as a therapy practice question but if it’s not check out Stack exchange “interpersonal skills” $\endgroup$ Jun 27, 2023 at 15:23
  • $\begingroup$ If the person asked you to disclose the information you could just relay what they said word for word and preface it with “some troubling news” and end it with “our hearts are with them through this difficult time and we wish them to get better and feel better and rejoin our community after they have received the care and attention their condition needs.” $\endgroup$ Jun 27, 2023 at 15:26
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    $\begingroup$ @hmltn I assume OP is asking for evidence-based approaches to sharing this sort of news in light of reasonable concerns about the "contagious" nature of discussion of suicide. So, it's not an interpersonal question of how to share personal news with a group, but specifically how to discuss suicide in a way that helps (e.g., making others with similar thoughts feel supported and see alternatives to suicide) rather than hurts (e.g., making others more likely to consider or attempt suicide). $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Jun 27, 2023 at 15:33
  • $\begingroup$ @hmltn Exactly as bryan-krause-is-on-strike said, I can deal with passing along the information, it's more about how I can make sure I approach this in a way that provides an open environment, so other people who might feel similar things can get support (especially in those very minutes leading up to a suicide attempt) before anything happens. $\endgroup$
    – Kevin
    Jun 27, 2023 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ There is also Community Building if you want to ask questions about communities $\endgroup$
    – Ooker
    Jun 30, 2023 at 12:37

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While I admire your resolve in providing this much needed support, there are a couple of alarm bells that are ringing in my head regarding potential issues you may come across.

You said that your goals include building a support network in the group, and conveying to the group the ability to always talk to you.

🔔 With regard to building a support network, for the personal safety of both you and those you support, you need to remember that you will be adding to the suicide support network which is already available, and not providing anything separate. For some of the potential pitfalls in what you may be doing, or may not, I would like to draw your attention to the Drama Triangle and TED Triangle discussed in another answer of mine.

🔔 When conveying to the group the ability to always talk to you, you can be setting both yourself and others for a big fall. What happens if situations arise (e.g. mobile phone signal, family emergency...) making you unavailable at a particular time someone needs to call you? No individual can guarantee they will be available 24/7 365 days a year.

When providing suicide support groups, you must

point out that you are just part of a large network of people who are available to talk whenever you feel the need to. One example is these worldwide suicide hotlines. People are on call there to talk to people struggling with the same kind of issues, regardless of location. If calling is not good, suicidal people can chat with them live online.

You need to be mindful of not just the suicidal people, but also yourself. For your own sake, you must not take on the idea that you are solely responsible for others who may be suicidal. Many things can happen outside of your control.

With regard to sharing suicidal ideation in others, be mindful of everyone's right to privacy. Privacy, and autonomy over personal information, is very important. It is fine to delicately provide the knowledge with signposting to the suicide hotlines in case they need them, but only if they freely give permission to do so.

The helplines themselves sometimes run training in supporting suicidal people. The Samaritans here in the UK definitely do. Maybe you could give your local service a call and see what they can provide? Just a thought

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  • $\begingroup$ Re. Not being available 24/7: I have thought about that over the past few days too, especially as I am not always on top at reacting to my phone, and I will make sure I convey that. ------------- Re. Suicide Hotlines: The bummer about that is that pretty much everyone knows about them, but still the friend didn't call them. This is in-line with what I've seen with myself in dark times. Contacting a full-on agency and - in my mind at the time - "wasting their time" kept me from calling, and I don't know how to convey trust into them if I myself didn't dare to call when I was down. $\endgroup$
    – Kevin
    Jun 28, 2023 at 23:16
  • $\begingroup$ And Re. Sharing the ideation: They explicitly told me to "Let the others know if X and Y dont want to share". I am still thinking of the best way to do that. $\endgroup$
    – Kevin
    Jun 28, 2023 at 23:26
  • $\begingroup$ I think passing the case to a professional hotline is always preferred if possible, but the act of passing them may be interpreted as unwilling to care them in the eyes of the person in need. Not only that, we already have more trust and information about the person. And it's possible that the person ask us not to pass them. What do you think about this? $\endgroup$
    – Ooker
    Jun 30, 2023 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Ooker - Sharing details of other organisations (hotlines etc.) is definitely the way to go for the reasons mentioned here. What they choose to do with that information is down to them. At least you have provided your duty of care in providing that information along with the fact that, while you are there to support them, you may not be available all the time for many different reasons. It is not for you to contact the helplines on their behalf. It is there for when they wish to call upon their help $\endgroup$ Jun 30, 2023 at 19:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Kevin - The helplines themselves sometimes run training in supporting suicidal people. The Samaritans here in the UK definitely do. Maybe you could give them a call and see what your local service can provide? Just a thought $\endgroup$ Jun 30, 2023 at 20:00

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