Instagram's latest feature aims to tackle self-harm problems among its users

Photo: Screengrab from Instagram

Social media is great for users to connect with friends and family, as well as allowing us to share our special moments with the world.

But like a double edged sword, it also has its downside. For one, it creates an opportunity for cyberbullies to exert their power, a problem especially rampant amongst teenagers.

Social media, being the new-age diary for many, invites people to share their innermost thoughts and feelings.

Not all are happy ones; some profess depressing thoughts while others may even reflect contemplations of suicide.

According to the World Health Organisation, over 800,000 deaths are suicide-related, and is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds.

As such, Instagram has finally decided to try and alleviate the problems with their latest feature.

Instagram's Helping Hand

Users concerned for friends or family members who have posted about depression or suicide can now do something about it.

According to Refinery29, users can anonymously report that person, which then prompts Instagram to send them a message saying "Someone saw one of your posts and thinks you might be going through a difficult time.

If you need support, we'd like to help."

The app will also offer suggestions, such as talking to a friend, contacting a local helpline, or receiving professional help.

In the Inquirer, Instagram Chief Operating Officer (COO) Marne Levine explains that these new tools are designed to let users in need of help, know that they are surrounded by a community that cares for them.

"We listen to mental health experts when they tell us that outreach from a loved one can make a real difference for those who may be in distress.

At the same time, we understand friends and family often want to offer support but don't know how best to reach out," she says in an interview with Seventeen.

This move comes after an option to filter comments using customisable block lists was launched in September this year.

Furthermore, a Reddit user informed that if users were to search for a self-harm related hashtag, the app would immediately link the user to suicide prevention websites.

Instagram's self-harm prevention measure is a similar copy to that of parent company Facebook's feature.

The Facebook Safety feature aims to help users with the intention of self-harming as well.

#PerfectlyMe

This isn't the only effort that Instagram is taking to help promote a positive body and health mindset.

As reported in Seventeen, they have also worked with other mental health groups like the National Eating Disorders Association, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, as well as people who have experienced such illnesses before.

Instagram is also partnering with Seventeen to launch a campaign for National Body Confidence Day - 19 October - named #PerfectlyMe.

The hashtag on Instagram showcases young men and women in the Instagram community who are promoting self-confidence for body and health.

This is done to encourage other Instagram users to be happy in their own skin.

The fact that Instagram, a huge social media platform, is taking the time and effort to make use of their large following to promote such important issues is something other large companies need to emulate.

At the end of the day they might be a profit-driven business, but their efforts show that if you've got the means to create awareness about important matters, you should take the chance to do so.

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HELPLINES
Samaritans of Singapore (SOS): 1800-2214444
Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-2837019
Sage Counselling Centre: 1800-5555555
Care Corner Mandarin Counselling: 1800-3535800
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