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Journal Article


Cohen R, Rifkin-Zybutz R, Moran P, Biddle L. Health Soc. Care Community 2022; ePub(ePub): ePub.


(Copyright © 2022, John Wiley and Sons)






The online world may provide an alternative means to engage young people and students with suicidal feelings, who are typically reluctant to seek help. We aimed to map, characterise and obtain user evaluation of current online suicide support for this group in order to assess the usefulness of current provision and how it may be improved. We conducted a mixed-methods study, comprised of an internet search, content analysis of site features and qualitative interviews with site users: 9 young people and 4 general practitioners. Data collection took place in 2019 and 2020 in the UK. Young people participants were recruited through the well-being networks of a large University in South-West England and via a national young person's mental health app. General practitioners were recruited locally through professional networks. We identified a wide range of easily accessible online support, including examples of interactive services, such as live chat and text messaging, but a lack of support that is both suicide-specific and young adult-specific, and an absence of online suicide or mental health crisis support services tailored specifically for students. Qualitative data showed that clarity, brevity and immediacy are the most important facets of engaging crisis help for young people, and that young people may prefer to use text-based rather than verbal forms of communication when seeking help. Few services provided access to active peer support, outside of lived-experience stories, which were evaluated as both valuable and potentially harmful. There is a need to further develop tailored suicide specific online crisis support for young people and students, which is able to 'speak to' their age-specific needs and preferences. While lived experience may provide a valuable means of supporting young audiences, caution is required since this may have unintended negative consequences and further research is needed to understand the safe framing of such material.

Language: en


mental health; suicide prevention; students; web-based services; young people


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