According to a 2020 study conducted by Wits University, South Africa has the eighth highest rate of suicide in the world, making it the third biggest cause of unnatural death after homicide and unintentional reasons. This means that South Africa has about 23 people dying by suicide, and 230 serious attempts, every day – reports the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG).
In light of World Suicide Prevention Awareness Day, TikTok has strengthened its deep care for its community, and are constantly finding for new ways to nurture their well-being. It is with this reason that today, TikTok is announcing a package of new changes to make it easier for people to access independent resources when they need them on the platform.
From new pasta recipes to #BookTok recommendations, TikTok is where hundreds of millions come to express their creativity and find community. For some, that includes sharing life experiences and finding comfort in knowing that they are not alone in what they are going through – whether it’s new parents talking about how to cope with the lack of sleep or mindfulness tips to manage anxiety.
We’re inspired by how our community openly, honestly and creatively shares about important issues such as mental well-being or body image, and by how they lift each other up and lend help during difficult times.
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.
Additional well-being resources to support our community
While we don’t allow content that promotes, glorifies or normalises suicide, self-harm or eating disorders, we do support people who choose to share their personal experiences to raise awareness, help others who might be struggling and find support among our community.
To help our community do this safely, this month we have rolled out new well-being guides to support people who choose to share their personal experiences on our platform, developed with the guidance of independent experts, including the International Association for Suicide Prevention, Crisis Text Line, Live For Tomorrow, Samaritans of Singapore and Samaritans (UK). The guides, which are available on our Safety Centre for informational purposes only, also offer tips to help our community members responsibly engage with someone who may be struggling or in distress.
In addition, we are hosting a week of in-app activities that will offer suggested tools and resources for mental well-being, including content shared by a range of TikTok creators and independent experts to learn about and explore important well-being issues. Today, 14 September, from 7:00pm to 8:00pm ZA time we will be hosting a LIVE session with the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), moderated by TikTok creator @celesteloubser.
Expanded guide on eating disorders
Earlier this year, we rolled out new features to support users who may be living with or recovering from an eating disorder. When a user searches for terms related to eating disorders, we provide them with suggested tools and direct them to appropriate resources. We’ve also introduced permanent public service announcements (PSAs) on certain hashtags, such as #whatIeatinaday, to increase awareness and provide support for our community.
We’re now expanding these resources with a new Safety Centre guide on eating disorders for teens, caregivers, and educators. Developed in consultation with independent experts including the National Eating Disorders Association, National Eating Disorder Information Centre, Butterfly Foundation, and Bodywhys, this guide will provide information, support and advice on eating disorders.
Strengthening our notices on search results
As part of our ongoing efforts to keep our community safe, we will also be updating our existing warning label for sensitive content. In the coming weeks, when a user searches for terms that may bring up content that some may find distressing, for example ‘scary make-up’, the search results page will be covered with an opt-in viewing screen. Individuals will be able to click ‘Show results’ to continue to see the content. The opt-in viewing screens already appear on top of videos that some may find graphic or distressing, with this type of content ineligible for recommendation into anyone’s For You feed.