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Responding to a Cry for Help: Best Practices for Online Technologies

Online Technologies
Type of Program: 
Guidelines & Protocols
2012 NSSP Objectives Addessed*: 
Program Description: 

Responding to a Cry for Help: Best Practices for Online Technologiesprovides recommendations for the development of policies and resources that decrease suicide risk amongst users of online technologies. The recommendations are organized into basic, mid-level and advanced levels.  Basic recommendations address providing help, policies for responding to suicide content, and referrals. Mid-level recommendations address guidelines, user reporting, partnerships, contextual messaging, and education. Advanced recommendations address timely response, outreach, and cultural competency.  

Officials from online technology companies and suicide prevention professionals had two face-to-face meetings to discuss and create the recommendations. The recommendations were further refined through a review of relevant literature, additional expert review, and discussions. The initial meeting was conducted by Daniel Reidenberg of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) and officials from Facebook, Google, YouTube, Microsoft, Tumbler, Twitter, Wordpress, Yahoo, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the Suicide Research Unit—Medical University of Vienna, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Research regarding suicide prevention amongst users of online technologies is in its infancy. There remains is still much to be learned. It is therefore important to acknowledge that these recommendations are based upon the best available knowledge and are subject to revision as more is learned.

Program Objectives: 

Organizations that use the Responding to a Cry for Help: Best Practices for Online Technologies will have:

  1. Increased knowledge of suicide prevention resources for technology platforms and social media.
  2. Increased knowledge of how technology platforms and social media can help reduce suicide risk amongst online technology users.
Contact Information: 

Dan Reidenberg
Executive Director
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE)
8120 Penn Avenue South, Suite 470
Bloomington, MN 55431
Voice: 952-946-7998
Fax: 952-829-0841


Responding to a Cry for Help: Best Practices for Online Technologies is available without charge. Copies can be downloaded from

First Posted: 
Dec 16 2013
Objective 2.3: Increase communication efforts conducted online that promote positive messages and support safe crisis intervention strategies.
Objective 4.3: Develop, implement, monitor, and update guidelines on the safety of online content for new and emerging communication technologies and applications.

*The content of programs listed in Section II (Expert and Consensus Statements) of the SPRC/AFSP Best Practices Registry address specific goals of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and have been reviewed by a panel of three suicide prevention experts and found to meet standards of importance, likelihood of meeting objectives, accuracy, safety, congruence with prevailing knowledge, and appropriateness of development process. Programs were not reviewed for evidence of effectiveness. Additional information about the Best Practices Registry can be found at