As per Should we allow questions on dealing with depressed/suicidal friends/colleagues?

All(?) question regarding depressed/suicidal should be closed as off-topic.

At the present, has 3 questions

What to do if I/Someone I know is feeling depressed/suicidal?
How to talk to a dean about depression
How can I explain my reduced social activity when depression is stigmatised?

has only 1 question:

What to do if I/Someone I know is feeling depressed/suicidal?

Because all future questions will be closed when dealing with depressed/suicidal person, I think these tags will be obsolete for future use. I don't think we'll get too many on-topic questions regarding depression and suicide, at least for a while.

So, shall we send these tags to ask for help for professionals now?

  • 1
    Can you cite some examples of questions that address these topics and why you think they're a bad fit here? We need to make our meta posts extremely specific because we need to be focusing on addressing issues we have, not issues we might have. Find all of the questions with these tags or subjects and go through them to think about what types of questions we've been asked. If we don't have a lot, we may need to put this discussion off until we do.
    – Catija
    Aug 5, 2017 at 19:07
  • @Catija done. And apologize for the title, can't help finding a better title ;) Feel free to suggest a better title.
    – Vylix
    Aug 5, 2017 at 19:17
  • 1
    There's one thing that I figured I better mention: if you ever find a question that deals with topics such as suicide or depression, and you have reason to believe that the person asking the question in any way could be harmed, please, please, and I can't stress this enough, please raise a custom flag saying so, and ping a moderator in chat. The community team has a procedure to deal with these.
    – Zizouz212
    Aug 6, 2017 at 1:08
  • @Zizouz212 Beyond depression, suicide or other situations where imminent danger is possible, the handling of "self-help" questions should be clearly defined. Cognitive Sciences SE has such a policy. Why was my self-help question closed as off-topic?.
    – user3169
    Aug 6, 2017 at 3:16
  • 2
    @user3169 The CogSci policy that you've linked to feels very similar to the policy at Medical Sciences. In that questions that seek, or should get any kind of medical attention are off-topic. Laymen over the internet can't provide great advice. If you had a broken arm, you'd want to call an ambulance - not find an internet stranger trying to tell you how to make a sling.
    – Zizouz212
    Aug 6, 2017 at 3:27
  • 2
    But if you look at interpersonal.stackexchange.com/questions/816/… the OP isn't asking for depression advice, or any kind of medical advice. They are literally asking how to talk to the dean. I don't see how that's off topic at all. Aug 6, 2017 at 20:32

3 Answers 3


Before you read what I say, please read this meta post: What's the official SE response to serious mentions of suicide or self-harm in posts?

Go back, I'm serious. Read it.

First case, at-risk user.

If you ever find a question where you believe that the asker is at-risk, either from harming someone else or themselves, then you must take the following steps exactly:

  1. Close vote. No upvotes, no downvotes, no answers. Close vote the question as off-topic.

  2. Flag for a moderator's attention. That question needs to be locked/deleted immediately. We don't want anybody to answer the question, or start talking about it, or voting on it. When you flag for a moderator's attention, be sure to give a quick insight into the situation. From here, the moderator will take the appropriate actions, and will escalate the situation to the community team.

  3. Optional: Add a comment. If you wish, you can add a comment. You want to show empathy, and provide directions for resources. Here's a sample, stolen from the above Meta post:

    It sounds like you’re going through a hard time. I’d really like to help you, but unfortunately, we’re not well equipped to do so here. Your best option is probably to call a suicide hotline. People are on call there to talk to people struggling with the same kind of issues you are, regardless of location. If calling is not good, you can chat with them live online. It might not help, but what’s the harm?

In cases like these, the community team will then reach out to the user, and handle the situation from there, often by making sure that the user is alright, that they are being heard, and that they get the support that they need.

Here's another case: those "self-help" questions.

Now look, you folks aren't professionals, and you shouldn't be expected to act like one. You don't want to be diagnosing anyone with anything, nor do you really want to be addressing any particulars of a diagnosis. If somebody tells you that their arm is broken in a chatroom on the internet, you shouldn't tell them how to make a sling, you should tell them to call an ambulance!

If you find any question that appears to be asking for any kind of medical advice, I would recommend that you close it as off-topic with a custom reason. This helps track it in our stats (to see if it's a long-term issue), and also allows you to explain why we have to close the question, mitigating any arguments from the question.

Last case: Casual discussions about mental well-being.

You should basically treat the question as any other. Depression is a fairly common diagnosis, and is heavily stigmatized. In fact, the World Health Organization said that 1 in 4 people will be affected by some sort of mental disorder (again, read it!). That doesn't mean we should send it away, but it's something that in many cases, there is no harm in talking about. As long as it isn't close-worthy for one of the two reasons above, and that it isn't attracting any unhealthy discussion, then there is no harm in keeping it around.


  1. Find a question where you believe someone may be at harm? Close it, flag it, find a moderator and alert us to it.

  2. Find a question where you feel the asker is seeking medical advice? Close it with a custom reason, and probably a good idea to let someone know.

  3. Find a question where there's a healthy, casual discussion about mental well-being? Well, nothing much to worry about there then!

Since you linked three examples, I figured I would classify them under the above three cases, and maybe add a brief comment:

  • How can I explain my reduced social activity when depression is stigmatised? I'd say it falls under Case 3. You can tell that curiousdanii left a comment making sure that the user is aware of support systems - which is good.

  • How to talk to a dean about depression? Another Case 3. Good communication question. The well-being aspect is not central to the question. Nothing to worry about here.

  • What to do if I/Someone I know is feeling depressed/suicidal? Feels like Case 1. I've got to say, this one scares me a little bit. Depression is not the same as being suicidal, the question is trying to appeal to broad audiences, and I do not feel comfortable providing any advice of any sort. There's something that is ironic in that answer:

    "While you may think that contacting family or friends is a good idea, they are not qualified, nor do they have the proper knowledge or training to offer the appropriate support in these situations."

    Yes! And neither are we qualified either! We should be getting them to someone that can provide them with advice - and we are not that someone. Suggesting that this question should be a duplicate target is ridiculous - we need to follow the Case 1 steps above, and handle this on a case-by-case basis.

  • 1
    Case 3 should not include questions regarding an individual's mental or physical state (as opposed to questions on a topic or situation in general), even if not specifically asking for help. Although such a question seems casual, you should not assume what someone writes is necessarily the actual situation or all that is going on.
    – user3169
    Aug 6, 2017 at 6:17
  • @user3169 You raise an excellent point. I didn't actually consider it. But I completely agree with you. We haven't received many cases of that (luckily), and I think it would be a good idea to look at everything on a case by case basis. Pretty sure you could put it under a Case 2, but we'll just have to see.
    – Zizouz212
    Aug 6, 2017 at 16:01
  • 2
    "What to do if I/Someone I know is feeling depressed/suicidal?" really needs to be closed as too broad. Aug 8, 2017 at 5:54
  • @curiousdannii Completely agree with you on that one. I'll place a close vote, just trying to figure out how I can argue it.
    – Zizouz212
    Aug 8, 2017 at 5:58
  • @curiousdannii Figured I'd tell you, but there's two votes sitting on that question, and I'm not confident it will get many more...
    – Zizouz212
    Aug 9, 2017 at 2:03
  • @ziz I wrote a custom flag, so let's see what the mods want to do Aug 9, 2017 at 3:55

This is part of the reason I thought the issues should be separated...

An awful lot of people deal with some level of depression at some point in their lives. The vast majority aren't suicidal or in serious danger of harming themselves or others.

Looking at the questions so far, depression related questions seem to be reasonably well received and there doesn't really appear to be significant issues with keeping the ones that don't have anything to do with suicide.

That said I've only seen one, now deleted, post asking for suicide prevention assistance. The post appeared to have been handled appropriately by the SE staff, and my hat's off to them for having a procedure in place.

I'm not sure if it's the case, but perhaps keeping both tags is a good thing. Questions about depression don't seem to be causing problems, and the suicide tag may help the staff and future mods find and handle emergency questions a little more quickly.


A very special tag, accompanied by a specialized message might be appropriate for the purpose.

Something like "hard-science" on Worldbuilding.SE, which is intensively focused on expert answers, founded by reliable sources.

Not sure if the latter can be done here, but the former is definitely suitable, as long as we can convince Mr. Cartaino.

  • Meh. Not really an effective idea, and the issue is the existence of these posts and potential consequences of their existence.
    – Zizouz212
    Aug 9, 2017 at 19:18

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