Reddit is Saving Lives

If you are familiar with the internet you are familiar with Reddit. However, for those of you who don’t know:

“Reddit, stylized as reddit, is an entertainment, social networking, and news website where registered community members can submit content, such as text posts or direct links, making it essentially an online bulletin board system.”

If you make a reddit account you can subscribe to particular “subreddits” which are essentially mini-communities conversing over shared interests. For instance:

  • /r/Funny – “You may only post if you are funny.” Here you will find a collection of funny pictures. Simple stuff.
  • /r/gaming – A subreddit for (almost) anything related to games – video games, board games, card games, etc.
  • /r/AskReddit – the place to ask and answer thought-provoking questions.
  • /r/politics – this is for news and discussion about U.S. politics.

I’m sure you get the point but in case you don’t, take a look at this graph that I took from redditmetrics:

A large amount of these are inactive, but nonetheless, Reddit is huge.

/r/SuicideWatch

This subreddit saves lives. It describes itself as a place of support. The premise is relatively simple: Users login (often using an anonymous or “throwaway” accounts if they deem it necessary) and explain their issues. Whether it be suicidal thoughts, how they’re struggling to deal with a depressed partner/friend or simply to offer their bespoke advice to others in similar situations. I find it genuinely incredible to see people form a community of vastly different cultures and come together to restore broken lives.

In addition to this, I am also baffled by the lack of trolls or even those who are simply ignorant to mental instability. I cannot name a purer community.

I was also very impressed by the masses of resources that /r/SuicideWatch provide. In fact; the moderators created and maintain an entirely new subreddit called /r/SWResources. It’s practically inactive, but that is intentional. The top post is named “Hotline Numbers” that contains suicide hotlines in several countries; from the United States to Malta. They also provide a “risk assessment guide” for those who are worried about someone who may or may not be suicidal.

Chris

A particularly touching story is what really opened my eyes, though. The original post was on /r/offmychest. To paraphrase the post: “I’m taking my black knife and jamming it into my…” the rest is rather graphic. Essentially, a man, supposedly named Chris opens up about how he plans on committing suicide but particularly asks for no upvotes; as he doesn’t want his brother who also browses reddit to see it. He expresses his love for his family, friends and… netflix. The “redditors” came together and purposely upvoted this thread in what you could call a desperate attempt to save this man’s life, or at least postpone his death. This isn’t what saved his life:

The comments and messages saved his life. I particularly love this one:

“Isn’t there a series that you want to finish up on netflix? I’ll give you my login/pass if you don’t have it” – Burge97

Chris replied: “as simple as that sounds during such a real time, i actually find this very sweet.” There were 500 comments on this thread alone, and Chris talks about the vast amount of personal messages he received.

I am delighted to say that Chris is alive and well, I’ll leave you with this:

“[My name is Chris, I woke up today with a plan to commit suicide. I posted in this subreddit just as a way to voice my plan and get it off my chest. I woke up dead set on leaving this day dead, but I didn’t know so many people cared about what’s going on in my life.]

[This is amazing and I love all you guys. I still have to face my problems head on and make a change because next time I may not post on Reddit. I should take a sec and show what I would of left behind if I did this. Davey and Johnny my little brothers this is the little guy named after me Little Chris and my Baby Belle . I love them all and like a lot of you guys said, I would be causing them awful harm.]

[Thank you again but also remember there could be people like me without access to a community like you guys. Stay by their side and be true friends or family to them. Ohh and to the Redditors who’ve offered a drink or a place to straighten my head thank you. Send some PMs and I’ll promptly reply. And for those that just wanted to talk Thank you from the bottom of my heart.]”

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