Online and social media suicide prevention interventions for young people: A Focus on implementation and moderation

Simon Rice, Jo Robinson, Sarah Bendall, Sarah Hetrick, Georgina Cox, Eleanor Bailey, John Gleeson, Mario Alvarez-Jimenez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Suicide remains a major global public health issue for young people. The reach and accessibility of online and social media-based interventions herald a unique opportunity for suicide prevention. To date, the large body of research into suicide prevention has been undertaken atheoretically. This paper provides a rationale and theoretical framework (based on the interpersonal theory of suicide), and draws on our experiences of developing and testing online and social media-based interventions. Method: The implementation of three distinct online and social media-based intervention studies, undertaken with young people at risk of suicide, are discussed. We highlight the ways that these interventions can serve to bolster social connectedness in young people, and outline key aspects of intervention implementation and moderation. Results: Insights regarding the implementation of these studies include careful protocol development mindful of risk and ethical issues, establishment of suitably qualified teams to oversee development and delivery of the intervention, and utilisation of key aspects of human support (i.e., moderation) to encourage longer-term intervention engagement. Conclusions: Online and social media-based interventions provide an opportunity to enhance feelings of connectedness in young people, a key component of the interpersonal theory of suicide. Our experience has shown that such interventions can be feasibly and safely conducted with young people at risk of suicide. Further studies, with controlled designs, are required to demonstrate intervention efficacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-86
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Early intervention
  • Online intervention
  • Social media
  • Suicide prevention
  • Youth mental health

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