On Life

Despair in the blogosphere – how you can help

The Lotus Flower

The Lotus


Late one night a week or so  ago I was browsing around sites I follow in the blogosphere when I landed on a post titled Goodbye. The writer is articulate and wry,  but sometimes confronting. I knew they had a tough time of it. I thought perhaps they’d decided to quit blogging. I was curious – I wondered what they might be moving on to, how they were  doing.

Maybe things were coming right, I thought. Yep, hope as they say, springs eternal.

You’ve probably gotten there faster than I did. I had to read the post twice before I could accept what had been said. The post had already been up six days. Realising that was not a good moment.

I felt like I’d been slapped awake. I was shocked.  And I felt helpless. I thought I was too late on the scene to be of much use.  I wasn’t entirely sure of the writer’s nationality. Their blogging name probably wasn’t their real name. This is the blogosphere – writers have complete control (almost) over what they reveal – which made the post all the more worrying. I couldn’t just move on to the next blog site, the next witty or entertaining read. I had to do something.

So I asked Google and Google sent me to the  Little Blog of Letting Go  and to  The National Suicide Prevention website. Check them  out. They have  a lot of useful information and links. (See below for New Zealand specific information.)

This is a summary:

  • Put up a comment, telling the blogger you are worried about their post, remind them there are people who care and urge them to contact their doctor or their therapist. You can also give them the phone number of a help line. In New Zealand Lifeline is a good place to start: their number is 0800 543 354. (There’s a list of personal help services at the front of the phone book)
  • If the blog is hosted by WordPress hover your mouse over the globe icon in the top left-hand corner, click on the report content link that appears in the drop down menu.
  • On self-hosted sites there is no icon. I contacted WordPress Support anyway. They treated my concerns seriously and with respect.
  • YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, all have systems in place for reporting content.

If you are worried, act. Remind the person to talk to someone, give them suggestions. Even though you might find the post several days after it went up, like I did, you won’t know for sure what’s happened. Try –  your actions could help.


If you are feeling low or desperate, or know someone who is, here are a couple of  useful links:

http://thelowdown.co.nz/#/home/ This site is aimed at young people.

http://depression.org.nz/home This site features the All Black great John Kirwan and has  a lot of useful information.



28 replies »

  1. I’m a little overwhelmed by your post. You did a great thing not ignoring it, and also in turning your post into something useful and advisory. One of the things that has struck me about the blogosphere, is how wonderfully caring people can be. I’ve started refering to those I interact with as my whanau – and I really mean it. A few times lately the kindest words and thoughts have come from these neat people and I value these blossoming friendships more than I could have imagined. Thanks again. And thanks for following Zimmerbitch BTW! Much appreciated.


    • Hi Sue, I did get a bit of a shock when I landed on that post. The good thing thing that came out of it is that it made me go and find out what I could do. I agree with you – the blogosphere is fill of encouragement and kind words. Whanau aroha in action!


  2. I’m so glad you didn’t ignore that post. A cry for help needs an answer and nobody writes a post like that without hoping for someone, somewhere to reach out. Hopefully that blogger felt a lot of support – perhaps from unexpected sources.
    You have a lovely blog, btw, and thanks for following me on Cold.


    • Hi Victoria, I agree with you, no matter how final things might seem, if someone is talking or writing about it, in all likelihood they are crying out for help. I could’t just move on without reaching out, albeit in a limited way, through the blogosphere.
      And thanks for the follow back 🙂


  3. Having worked on a helpline for five years of my nursing career I applaud you for not just ignoring the post. It may not have been that the person was suicidal but it is not something to ignore. Good for you.


  4. Thanks for the good information and glad you did something to help. I hope everything turned out okay. Sometimes things can seem terrible for a moment but moments pass and some kind words and a bit of caring can go a long way. 😊


  5. well are you sure they were suicidal? because a post titled “goodbye” could sometimes just mean they are leaving the blog world – or that blog – and well, wait – you said you read there entire post “twice” and so obviously they were -(sorry- got it)

    and well, thanks for sharing this resourceful post – with links- about this topic (life is precious) and thx for sharing what you did and with tips for others that may come across something like this – (cool ❤ how WordPress cares so much…). Also, I appreciate what jesh-stg added –


  6. Am glad I read your post by email. You may have overlooked it, but I’m a retired psychologist, and depression was one of my specialties. If worried about someone taking their life, you ask if they have someone to talk to –
    and urge them to let their family or friend know that she/he needs help
    (since I don’t know how much in contact you are with the blogger, and even if you live in the same country),
    2nd is you urge that they seek help from a friend or a professional (in last case, if they don’t have a friend close by just say “Get some meds. to tie you over till you feel better).
    There’s not much more you can do from a distance, than looking up a hot line in that city, and calling for them (if the blogger asks you to).
    and pray, they will meet someone, who is close enough help them.


    • Hi jesh steg,
      Thank-you for your advice, it’s helpful and pretty much in line with what I discovered and what I did. I have next to no contact with the blogger concerned other than reading one or two of her posts. I know very little about her. Not only do I live in a different country, I’m in a different hemisphere. But when I read the post the message was not ambiguous at all – it was clear. It made me think about what to do, and go looking for advice. I’ve summarised what I discovered in my post for others – because although what I came across is probably relatively rare, it does happen. Many thanks for your comment and suggestions.


  7. Not what you expect when you are looking around the blogs.. good on you for being proactive and trying your best to help. I hope it did make a difference.


    • You are so right, Kazg10, it wasn’t what I was excpecting at all. But it did make me go and work out what the best thing to do is. I hope the blogger is doing okay, too.


    • Hey thanks, I’m glad you like it! In fact I’m chuffed (kiwi for very pleased). I snapped it with my phone as we hurried past. It was on a busy street in Kanchanaburi last November.


      • Hey Jill – I am on the feed for this post comment still…. and well, glad I stayed on cause I also loved the shot with the heavy topic (but so meaningful and heartfelt and useful) well I did not even think of noting it.

        anyhow, I also now learned two new words from you. first, chortle!

        and now “chuffed”

        and so I am chuffed to have two new words- but not enough to chortle about it.


        • Ha ha! I’m chuffed again! I chose that photo because to me it represents a triumph of beauty against the odds. It was in a concrete tub on a very busy street, you can see how murky the water is. I’m not exactly sure, but I think in Buddhism the lotus represents new beginnings, rebirth, and purity – all of which seemed appropriate in the circumstances. 🙂


          • I NEVER would have guessed it was from a tub w/ murkily water – it felt exotic and formal – and nice to know that it may represent all those things…. and one summer I had a weekend of Monet workshops with about 25 kids and we all went to town making lily pads – and ever since that time I have enjoyed lily pads and their flowers even more.

            Also- I did not want to mention this with a serious topic – but I like how you wrote hope springs eternal and that you hoped you were not “too late on the scene…” Jill had seen the need for help = okay – that was cheesy – it’s late – and I am done for the night! ha


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