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Instagram lets you support friends whose mental health you may be concerned about

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Instagram is taking a page out of parent company Facebook’s book by launching suicide prevention support tools for its 500 million users.

Now, if you spot an Instgram post by a friend that worries you in regard to their mental health you can do something about it. By anonymously reporting the image, your friend will receive a message stating: “Someone saw one of your posts and thinks you might be going through a difficult time. If you need support, we’d like to help.”

The person at risk will also be able to access a list of resources from within the app, including contact details for a helpline, tips, and support, and an option to message or call a friend.

The reporting tools are almost identical to the support functions offered by Facebook. Similarly, Instagram claims it worked with mental health experts, support groups, and real people to create the resources, reports Seventeen.

Unlike Facebook, the photo-sharing app is taking more of a hands-on approach by actively reaching out to people it feels are searching for posts relating to suicide.

Now, when a user types in a hashtag that indicates they may be considering self-harm, the app will automatically present him or her with the same support pop-up. Instagram already blocks an updating list of terms, some of which relate to self-harm or anorexia, such as #thinspo, #loseweight, and #probulimia.

Suicide rates in the U.S. are reportedly at their highest peak in 30 years, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, with the largest spikes among men and women aged 45-64. Instagram, however, is currently home to a younger crowd — 55 percent of online users aged 18-29 are on the app based on a recent study by Pew Research. That particular age demographic is believed to be more prone to suicidal thoughts and attempts than those over the age of 30.

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Saqib Shah
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