Suicide Prevention Outreach on Social Media Delivered by Trained Volunteers: A Qualitative Study

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Background: There is a need to develop new ways to reach and engage people at risk for suicidal behavior. Suicide prevention outreach on social media (SPOSM) represents a promising strategy, and trained volunteers could potentially provide the needed human resources. Aims: We aimed to investigate users perception of SPOSM delivered by volunteers of the Israeli Sahar organization and its potential to promote help-seeking behavior. Methods: Outreach messages written by Sahar volunteers between July 2015 and June 2020 in response to suicidal posts on a social media site were screened. User responses were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis. Results: One hundred sixteen user responses were analyzed. Positive impact themes were identified in 69.8% of responses, while 16.4% of responses mentioned barriers to care and 10.3% were negative. Limitations: As the study is based on real-life data, the data are limited to users who chose to respond to outreach. Conclusion: The findings suggest that volunteer-based SPOSM is viewed positively by many users and may foster help-seeking behavior. The findings also outline challenges such as emotional barriers to care and privacy concerns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-254
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Hogrefe Publishing.


  • intervention
  • social media
  • suicide prevention
  • trained nonprofessionals
  • trained volunteers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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