I flagged How to help someone who threatens self-harm over the internet? as a suicide prevention question, shortly after it was first posted. Initially it looked like things were being handled the way they usually are, the post closed by a moderator with an appropriate message in comments, who I'm guessing passed it along to the SE staff.

Now the question has been edited, answered and protected by a CM.

Was this case different for some reason, or is there a policy change that we need to be aware of?


I've been talking with a moderator in the Teacher's Lounge and I can't say there's been a change in policy. The question you flagged and I answered is not the traditional suicide question about the poster themselves, but a question asked about how to help someone else. I think the canonical answer is that those of us without training need to guide people to those who do. So I edited the question to be slightly more general and more focused on the "how do I help" aspect.

It's a bit uncomfortable for me. I have an answer on Meta Christianity that suggests we close personal advice questions and direct people in the comments to appropriate advisors. But this entire site is to some degree about personal advice. I think my answer could be helpful, but I'd like to see what others have to say. In particular, I'd like to know if my answer (and by extension, the process CMs use) is as good as it can be.

But I'm not going to say the question should remain open or not be deleted; that's up to the community and your moderator representatives. Certainly, I don't have to deal with any potential problems it might cause as much as you all will.

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    I kinda figured that the one step removed aspect may have been the reason it was handled differently, but it wasn't explicitly stated and I figured it probably should be. I'm not sure if you've seen this already, but early on we tried to have a canonical question to use as a way to handle these. interpersonal.stackexchange.com/questions/370/… – apaul Sep 29 '17 at 0:56
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    Interesting. That's a pretty good self-answered question. But it does seem like there are advantages to a more focused and less hypothetical question. I suppose the other thing I should have mentioned is that I was about to send the answer in an email. Then it occurred to me that I would never answer a question via email if I could do it on the site instead. (You'd be amazed the sorts of questions we get via the contact form.) – Jon Ericson Sep 29 '17 at 1:10
  • Did you get a chance to checkout the related meta discussions? – apaul Sep 29 '17 at 1:14
  • This is an issue that has been discussed a few different ways around here so far, if you're one of the SE employee's that we're pointing some of these questions to, it would be helpful if you could help us figure out what to do with them in general. – apaul Sep 29 '17 at 1:18
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    I haven't really looked into it much. I just happened to be around when the question came up. (The perils of living in the latest timezone on the team.) – Jon Ericson Sep 29 '17 at 1:22
  • I'm sure that means you tend to catch a lot of the "fun" though. If you have the time we could certainly use a hand. – apaul Sep 29 '17 at 1:27

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