TikTok combats suicide searches

The popular app has announced new features to help users that are struggling with mental health issues.

TikTok, platform, mental health, features

TikTok has decided to take a leap in the right direction, by making the app safer to use for people who struggle with mental health. The new features include guides on wellbeing and support for people who are struggling with eating disorders. There is also a search intervention feature that directs users to support resources if they look up terms such as “suicide”.

The move comes as rival platform Instagram comes under fresh scrutiny over its impact on users’ wellbeing. In TikTok’s announcement  they noted, “We care deeply about our community, and we always look for new ways in which we can nurture their well-being. That’s why we’re taking additional steps to make it easier for people to find resources when they need them on TikTok.”

A report by the Education Policy Institute and The Princes Trust earlier this year found that teenagers’ mental health was being damaged by heavy social media use. The new resources, which TikTok said would roll out globally in the coming months, include an expanded guide on eating disorders and a feature that will direct users to local support, such as a Crisis Text Line, if they search for the terms such as suicide.

The study reported that mental health issues were linked to negative well being and self-esteem, regardless of a young person’s mental state, with more girls experiencing feelings of depression and hopelessness.

According to the report, TikTok has been studying the impact of the app on its younger users’ mental wellbeing for at least two years. The paper also said that the research had repeatedly found it is harmful for a large proportion of users, especially teenage girls.

TikTok, much like its rival social media platforms, has come under intense scrutiny over the impact they can have on the mental health of its users. The issue has come up multiple times over the years and continues to be an issue with seemingly no way to rectify itself. 

Young people have access to social media and will use it. The platforms they have access to, haven’t quite designed a way that can help their young audiences. TikTok has made an impressive start considering it’s time on the market.