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#ChatSafe: A young person’s guide to communicating safely online about self-harm and suicide

In Canada, an estimated 1.6 million children and youth have a diagnosed mental health challenge. The COVID-19 pandemic has had serious global economic and social impacts, and it continues to alter the lives of many people. Young people are particularly vulnerable to the disruptions the pandemic has caused, and many are being left behind in education, economic opportunities, health and well-being during a crucial stage of their development.

#ChatSafe is an internationally renowned suicide prevention program that aims to empower and equip young people to communicate safely online about self-harm and suicide on social media and other digital platforms and empower their parents or caregivers to support them in communicating safely. These are the world’s first evidence-based guidelines are designed to support safe peer-to-peer communication between young people aged 12-25. This may include young people responding to content related to self-harm or suicide, young people looking for information or support about suicidal feelings, or those who might want to share online their own feelings and experiences with self-harm or suicide.

Developed in partnership with Orygen‘s world-class research team and young people, the #ChatSafe guidelines address the critical need for open dialogue while navigating sensitive topics and aim to reduce stigma, fear, and misinformation surrounding self-harm and suicide discussions online.

Key Features of the #ChatSafe Guidelines:

  • Evidence-Based Approach: Informed by rigorous research, expert insights, and voices of lived experience, #ChatSafe provides evidence-based strategies for constructive online conversations.
  • Support for youth and those concerned about their mental health: #ChatSafe offers tailored guidance for young people seeking information, parents and carers supporting their children, and influencers creating content related to mental health.
  • Empowerment and Education: By equipping individuals with the knowledge and skills to communicate responsibly, #ChatSafe empowers young people to seek help and support each other online.
  • Reducing Stigma: Through open and informed discussions, #ChatSafe contributes to breaking down barriers and reducing stigma around self-harm and suicide.

Originally published in 2018 in Australia, the globally recognized #ChatSafe guidelines have been translated into 25 languages and have found a home in the safety centres of numerous major social media platforms. This second edition, tailored for the Canadian context, comes at a crucial time as rates of self-harm and suicide among young people continue to rise.

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