How can we make ThereIsHelp even better? February 16, 2014 7:29 PM   Subscribe

The ThereIsHelp page on the MeFi wiki is a helpful compilation of resources for people who are struggling with depression, suicidal ideation, alcoholism, domestic violence, and sexual assault. It's also a living document, originally created through the collaboration of MeFites over three years ago in memory of Bill Zeller, and I'd like to continue the conversation about how we as a community can make it even better.

I'm particularly thinking it might be helpful to organize the section for loved ones of people suffering from depression in a way that more clearly highlights how to help a loved one with thoughts of suicide: for example, by emphasizing the importance of getting emergency help for people at risk of suicide, clearly noting that suicide hotlines are also for friends and family of those struggling with suicidal thoughts, providing information about risk factors for suicide, and otherwise highlighting especially helpful comments and/or external resources about how to support people struggling with depression and suicidal ideation.

Are these good ideas? Are there especially good sources for this information? Are there other ways in which ThereIsHelp can be an even better resource, in any of its sections?

There's a lot of collective knowledge and sharing of experience with mental health issues in this community, and the wiki page we have now is a wonderful reflection of that. I hope we're able to find ways to even better help people find help and a way forward through difficult times. Thank you so much!
posted by beryllium to MetaFilter-Related at 7:29 PM (23 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

I love that page and I refer to it from time to time. But I can never find it on my own. I always have to ask a mod where it is. I think it needs to be in a more easily accessible place.

Even now I don't know how to find it without using the link in your post. I searched the wiki page for the phrase "There is Help" and it didn't come up.

It might just be me. Even so, I would appreciate it if we made it easier to find on the wiki. Thanks for everyone who contributed to it.
posted by vincele at 8:47 PM on February 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


A Google search turns it up for me as the 1st or 2nd result.

It's definitely editable, of course. I don't know that anyone needs permission to improve it - if you can think of ways to add resources or organize it more clearly, please do. It is kind of nice to have the chance to discuss it here - sometimes it's good to know that people tacitly endorse what you're doing, and/or want to discuss it further. I worked on it a lot when it was new, happy to see it get continued love, and try to link to it whenever it makes sense.
posted by Miko at 9:02 PM on February 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Depending on when people are turning to the page, updating it with a message such as this might be useful. However, that's pretty clearly ant-suicide, and the page seems to be a bit more general.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:35 PM on February 16, 2014


Even now I don't know how to find it without using the link in your post. I searched the wiki page for the phrase "There is Help" and it didn't come up.

Not sure if something has been changed since you posted this, but when I search for "there is help" (no quotes) on the wiki it redirects straight to the ThereIsHelp page.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:44 AM on February 17, 2014


vincele, I created a redirect from "There Is Help" to "ThereIsHelp", so if you or anyone else search for it on the wiki's search with the spaces in it should now come up. It's also linked from the front page of the wiki (the "Depression" link in "Collected AskMes").

I think having a consistent link to it here on Metafilter itself would be nice, too. It does get linked on a regular basis but not always in predictable places. Currently it is linked from this FAQ entry. I wonder if it could be linked somewhere on the AskMe new question page and/or the anonymous question page, so people thinking of asking a question could find it more easily?

Miko, thank you for all your lovely work! And yes, I thought it would be helpful for people to talk about what makes it useful for them and think about what would make it even more useful, and I'm not confident enough in what I'm thinking of doing to edit myself. It's been a few years, as well, so it seemed like a good time to talk and collaborate again.
posted by beryllium at 3:04 AM on February 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I wonder if it could be linked somewhere on the AskMe new question page and/or the anonymous question page, so people thinking of asking a question could find it more easily?

I believe the mod team has pretty much said that making pages from the wiki too closely or directly linked like this isn't likely to happen, because the wiki is not really Official MetaFilter Territory (see here), so the mods don't necessarily keep a close eye on it or really have any serious control over it.

If I've read the various discussions about this correctly, there seems to be a community and mod consensus that doing something like putting a link to the "There Is Help" wiki page on the Green would give that wiki page a sort of "MetaFilter Stamp of Approval", which would then mean that the mods would have a moral & ethical & maybe even legal responsibility to make sure that that wiki page stays 100% useful and accurate 100% of the time, which they really can't do.

There've been some fairly in-depth discussions on this, I think, in the There Is Help comes to profile pages MeTa from July 2011 and the MeFi Bat Signal MeTa from May 2013.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:46 AM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is great, and thanks so much for the work, but I am a little concerned about linking AskMe threads about people asking for medical advice as a resource. I know (or at least believe, correct me if I'm wrong here) that in the past the mods' stance on medical questions has been more or less "this is not an expert medical advice site, and answers should be taken as such", but it seems like linking such threads in a list of resources for help implies validation that they carry some authority.

I'd be a lot more comfortable with limiting links to questions like "what are good online resources for me to research X problem" or "what kind of AA meeting should I attend" than I am with "am I an alcoholic?" I realize there's a gigantic grey area between those two poles, and I'm of two minds about the whole thing, frankly, but it makes me uneasy.

As an example, my "taking a shower" answer relating how I got through a rough period in my life was linked there, which is humbling, and I hope to Christ it helped somebody. But that answer is immediately followed by someone recommending that the depressed person immediately cease taking medication and go see a homeopath. What if someone battling depression goes to the wiki, sees that, and decides to go off their meds without a doctor consultation? What if, for that matter, my own answer is in some way a useless or counterproductive one and I shouldn't have written a word? I'm not a therapist; I'm just some guy.

I know this is an old point, and I'm not trying to re-open the argument of whether medical questions should be allowed in Ask. I'm only concerned that the act of linking them in the wiki gives them a stamp of approval that I believe the mods don't want to be implied there. I don't think it would be abundantly clear to a new user that the wiki isn't an official mod-controlled resource.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:12 AM on February 17, 2014 [11 favorites]


My most favorited comment ever links to The Bridge, which is a modern parable for folks caught in a sort of emotional hostage situation with the suicidal. It's not exactly helpful for the person who is feeling suicidal and doing shitty things to their loved one(s), so I'm not sure if it fits in the ThereIsHelp page's mission, but I thought I should probably mention it here in any case.
posted by kalessin at 8:17 AM on February 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Currently it is linked from this FAQ entry. I wonder if it could be linked somewhere on the AskMe new question page and/or the anonymous question page, so people thinking of asking a question could find it more easily?

For my part at least, I'm really glad the There Is Help page exists but I feel a little hesitant about too directly chucking it at people as a first-line resource for e.g. the new question page in general. The FAQ is a decent site-official place to point to it with a little context, which is why we've got it there; we also will as mod point folks specifically to it in the odd cases where something relevant comes up on or adjacent to the site (usually this'd be something like a no-go askme question about suicide stuff, say). Beyond that is trickier territory, which is the reason it's not more aggressively positioned on the site tiself.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:05 PM on February 17, 2014


I feel a little hesitant about too directly chucking it at people as a first-line resource for e.g. the new question page in general.

This is me as well. We already don't approve anon questions about suicide, for the most part, and delete the ones that people ask. I think we need to be clear what sorts of questions are/are not okay and I think linking to the ThereisHelp page from the Ask a Question page sends a mixed message.

We have to draw a line between official sanctioning of "Here is some advice for people having a tough time of it" (which was something I suggested and which was resoundly shot down) and "Here is a thing that a bunch of users put together that could be helpful." I think one of the better things that can happen is people linking to it with their answers and/or contacting users and suggesting it and/or putting it on their profile pages.

it seems like linking such threads in a list of resources for help implies validation that they carry some authority.

That's not the feeling that I get since the wiki is fairly unofficial and linking to questions is pretty clearly "Read this forum posting on this subject" but the larger issue of what is and isn't okay makes me a little table-flippy. I am okay with medical questions. I am okay with that risk. The mods are okay with that risk. Other users are not. That's where we are right now.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:28 PM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I worked suicide prevention for the average number of months (6). It sucked. There are a lot of folks in the world who roll around the idea of suicide in their head for a long time and sometimes they never attempt it. Or sometimes they take a long long time and consider it for many times before they try it. And sometimes folks suicide and nothing you say or do can stop it. That's what I learned from volunteering and it's what ultimately drove me away from continuing my service.

I tend toward the side of thinking that up to a certain point, and that point is looking like they're a serious suicide risk (which means they have the means, the motive and the opportunity), pretty much any conversation in private is okay.

So I think that self-service, unofficially, unsanctioned (and I agree that Wiki is a good way since it's to some extent democratic and there's plausible deniability) information of all kinds is okay.

We generally cannot hope to catch folks that have the means, motive and opportunity. Even if we type quickly and are ON IT, that moment is often fleeting. The volunteer organizers on the suicide prevention hotline trained us suicide prevention volunteers to escalate to 911 as soon as we had probable cause, which included keeping the person on the phone as long as possible (for a trace) and doing all we could to trick an address or location out of the person calling. it totally sucked and I wouldn't possibly dream of wanting to put that burden on an already quite responsible and burdened mod team.
posted by kalessin at 4:04 PM on February 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I get the whole some advice can be dangerous thing but I'm aware some people on the site really struggle at times - maybe everybody at points, it's good to have at least something up-however imperfect it might be.
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:44 PM on February 17, 2014


For my part at least, I'm really glad the There Is Help page exists but I feel a little hesitant about too directly chucking it at people as a first-line resource for e.g. the new question page in general. T

I completely agree. There is a danger of giving vulnerable people the impression that they shouldn't bother AskMe with their question, they should RTFM instead. That's not so good.
posted by thelonius at 4:45 PM on February 17, 2014


I am okay with medical questions. I am okay with that risk. The mods are okay with that risk. Other users are not. That's where we are right now.

Sure, and just to stress again, my intent wasn't to debate moderation policy or the acceptability of medical advice questions, so I apologize for any table-flippiness. My only concern was to discuss whether linking such threads in a "here are places to get help" context changed the game a bit.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:57 PM on February 17, 2014


Yeah no, I hear you. I should have been more clear. My answer is "I don't think so" though I'm sure others may have other feelings on the matter.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:58 PM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


The point about finding the ThereIsHelp page is a good one, so I put a link to it on the front page of the wiki. It's now listed under "Collected AskMes" on the front page, so it should be easier to find the link in the future if you find you want to point someone to it. (I put spaces in the link text, but could remove them if people think it would be better with no spaces.)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:18 PM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


LobsterMitten, thank you! It's now actually in the Collected AskMes list twice, since the Depression link also redirects there. I had thought about changing the link text but I'm not sure which is more helpful!

middleclasstool, your concern actually makes a lot of sense to me. I think it's clear from the structure of the page, which starts off with hotlines and sources of professional help, that some of the given information is help with finding medical resources and counseling and some of it is the personal experience of MeFites that may or may not be helpful to any given person (but which I think still has some value as a part of the page--I've always felt that one of the beautiful things about this community is that it is a space where people can help one another by sharing these stories, and I think knowing 'other MeFites have had similar experiences and found ways through them' is helpful even if the particular path is not necessarily.)

That being said, if there is anything that needs to be done to better delineate 'here is how to find help in the community/here is some research-backed information from reputable sources' versus 'here are some personal experiences of MeFites that may be helpful', I do think that could be a good thing. (And that's very much why I started this thread, because in the section for loved ones we currently only have Ask threads and not other sources and I'm worried it might be hard for someone reading that to figure out next steps.)
posted by beryllium at 4:09 AM on February 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hm. Going to do some work on this, the suicide resources link for Canada is missing some obvious players I know about (in general, I'm skeptical of the suicide.org site information - there was one night where we were dealing with a caller worried about a friend who was suicidal in Austria; I tried to use suicide.org to find information about Austria, and quickly realized that the Austria page was showing everything for Australia. I've sent them emails about it, but its still that way. I love the idea behind the site, but it does not seem to be updating/managing itself well).
posted by nubs at 12:00 PM on February 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


What a cool idea. Can we map these resources?
posted by parmanparman at 3:10 PM on February 18, 2014


You know the wiki song, right?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:14 PM on February 18, 2014


beryllium: "Are these good ideas?"

Yes. Definitely.

I would like to say something that doesn't seem to have been brought up yet, but might be helpful to keep in mind for anyone who is planning on adding resources: The wiki page was ostensibly designed to be as streamlined as possible.

The top part of the page are links, brief explanations, websites and phone numbers for people in crisis. They're presented so that those folks can find what they need quickly. As you travel down the page it becomes more information-dense, for people who are not necessarily in immediate crisis.

Each section was also intended to follow a similar, pyramidal pattern: Starting with information that should be quickly accessible and then offering links to deeper reading material down below.

I always try to offer to help whenever people need things added to the wiki and aren't familiar with markup language. But I've been totally overwhelmed with work and personal stuff for more than a month and probably will remain so for at least another month. I apologize for not being able to offer a hand right now. The only wiki project I'm working on at the moment is gathering Trans* resources and materials to expand that page, but it has been extremely slow going.
posted by zarq at 3:54 PM on February 18, 2014


Thanks for making this MeTa, I had no idea this collection existed.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 5:09 PM on February 18, 2014


zarq - I'm not incredibly wiki-savvy, but I can usually muddle my way through by copying the formatting from other sections. If I screw anything up, I will try to rectify it.
posted by nubs at 9:07 AM on February 19, 2014


« Older Awesome comment for debt validation letter?   |   Odd layout issue? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments