After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools | 35 Vignette E: Using Social Media to Help Native American Youth A Native American community on a reservation experienced multiple suicide deaths among its high school youth. The youth shared with each other on social media that they were depressed and that the future seemed hopeless. They expressed sentiments such as, “Because of [name of the person who died by suicide], maybe I should kill myself, too.” These emotions were not showing up in school or elsewhere in public. The students felt comfortable expressing these feelings on social media, where they experienced a sense of community and anonymity. Because Facebook profiles remained online after individuals died and were used as memorials, there was concern about the potential for students to inadvertently glamorize the suicide deaths on these sites. However, the suicide prevention staff and school counselors used the sites in a positive way to address the contagion. They posted messages encouraging the youth to talk with a supportive adult. A key message was: With help, loss of life can be prevented. The best way to honor [name of the person who died] is to seek help if you or someone you know is struggling. If you’re feeling lost, desperate, or alone, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call 1-800-273-TALK, or text TALK to 741741. The call or text is free and confidential, and crisis workers are there 24/7 to assist you. They used the word honor in the message because in this Native American culture, honoring a person and life is highly valued. Soon after the positive messages were posted, youth in the community began reaching out more. They expressed their distress more openly on their social media profiles to their friends and peer helpers who then informed trusted adults. The program staff proactively monitored the social media profiles for expressions of distress and depression and initiated contact when warranted. In addition, the staff provided more gatekeeper training to adults to increase the number of adults able to help the youth. The program and school staff also worked with local faith leaders. One pastor who was trusted by the youth strongly encouraged them to talk with an adult and reinforced the positive messages that were posted on social media. These efforts created a turning point, and there were no more suicides during that period of time. Online Memorial Pages For information on online memorial pages and message boards, see the Memorialization section.