Tag Archives: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

“Be A Looper” – Suicide Prevention App

By Tracey Dowdy  

According to the World Health Organization, over 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression, but fewer than half of them receive any treatments.

It’s a statistic that seemed all too relatable for Amanda Johnstone, who lost twelve friends to suicide. Though the reasons each took their own life varied, they had one common denominator. “They all thought they were a burden, and it was too hard to keep reaching out,” says Johnstone.

To manage her grief and hyper-aware of the need for emotional support, Johnstone cam up with the idea of organizing close friends into a group SMS text that would serve as a routine, low-key mental health check-up. Every day at 4 pm, each would rate their mental state on a scale of one to ten, so those who were struggling had immediate resources and support.

Johnstone’s idea was even better in practice than in theory, so she took the idea to a developer who helped her create “Be a Looper,” a free peer-support app enabling users to touch base with five friends daily. Launched in November 2017, Be A Looper has spread to 76 countries—with Australia, the U.S., and the U.K. as the top three users—and was nominated for the 2018 Global Mobile Awards. 

The apps help users to both share how their day is tracking and keeps a close eye on those that may need support. Users can add up to five ‘Loopers’ into their network, and all networks are private. When an individual Looper is added, they are prevented from seeing other people. Instead – they get to create their safe network. The app doesn’t work offline, but users don’t need to have cellular reception just be connected to the internet (either via WiFi or via data) to use the Be A Looper app.

“We are all on our phones all the time, so it made so much sense to create something that’s already in people’s hands, which gives them that nudge to reach out and take a little bit of care of each other,” says Johnstone.

 If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. In emergencies, call 911 or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Reporting Cyber-Abuse on Social Media

By Tracey Dowdy

For as long as there has been life on the planet, there have been those who find pleasure in tormenting others or demonstrate their perceived authority by denigrating those they see as weak or vulnerable. With the advent of social media, those abusive behaviors moved from the real world to the digital world. It’s become nearly impossible for victims to escape. Through social media, the bullying follows you into the privacy of your home, making it seem like there are no safe places.

According to DoSomething.org, nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online, and 1 in 4 have experienced it more than once, yet only 1 in 10 victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse. A study by the Universities of Oxford, Swansea, and Birmingham found that youth who have been cyberbullied are twice as likely to commit self-harm or attempt suicide than their non-bullied peers. Unfortunately, when those bullies grow up, they often continue their behavior. Pew Research Center found that 73% of adults state they’ve witnessed online harassment and 40% reporting being the target themselves. It’s not just individuals being bullied. Hate groups often utilize platforms like Facebook and Twitter to disseminate their message, and as a result, online hate speech often incites real-world violence.

The message, “If you see something, say something,” is more than a catchy slogan. It’s your responsibility if you see abusive or hate-fueled messages and images online. Here’s how to report offensive content.

Twitter clearly maps out how to report abusive behavior. You can include multiple Tweets in your report which provide context and may aid in getting the content removed more quickly. If you receive a direct threat, Twitter recommends contacting local law enforcement. They can assess the validity of the threat and take the appropriate action. For tweet reports, you can get a copy of your report of a violent threat to share with law enforcement by clicking Email report on the We have received your report screen.

Facebook also have clear instructions on how to report abusive posts, photos, comments, or Messages, and how to report someone who has threatened you.  Reporting doesn’t mean the content will automatically be removed as it has to violate Facebook’s Community Standards. Offensive doesn’t necessarily equate to abusive.

You can report inappropriate  Instagram posts, comments or people that aren’t following Community Guidelines or Terms of Use.

Users can report abuse, spam or any other content that doesn’t follow TikTok’s Community Guidelines from within the app.

According to Snapchat support, they review every report, often within 24 hours.

If you or someone close to you is the victim of harassment, and bullying, you have options. If the abuse is online, submit your report as soon as you see the content. If it’s in the real world, take it to school administration, Human Resources, or the police, particularly if there is a direct threat to your safety.

Finally, if you’re having suicidal thoughts due to bullying or for any other reason, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline online or call 1-800-273-8255 for help.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.