Wikipedia:Responding to threats of harm

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This is advice to editors engaged in responding to those threatening suicide or other self harm. For advice on articles about notable suicides, please see Wikipedia:Articles on suicides
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Wikipedia structures and processes are designed to build a collaborative encyclopedia. However, the community is generally ill equipped to deal with actual real-life emergencies or threats of harm, whether those are threats of physical violence against others, or against oneself.

Rationale

Wikipedia is not a mental health or support organization. By and large, its users have no special training related to handling individuals who are actively or potentially violent or suicidal. Mental health experts and suicide prevention specialists recommend referring such individuals to proper professional care immediately.

Responding

Some of these responses require administrator permissions. In all cases, administrators should be notified, including cases where an administrator is the first responder. Non-admins may still respond even though they may not have all the tools.

Treat all claims seriously

Although individuals who discuss committing suicide may not be actively suicidal, some of those people may become actively suicidal. The same can go for claims or threats of violence. Many claims are empty threats or hoaxes; some are made by people who are depressed or angry, but not suicidal or violent.

Wikipedians are not as a rule properly trained to determine if such a claim or threat is an immediate harm to someone's well being, and should assume the worst and act accordingly. Treat all claims seriously and as an emergency.

Contact the Wikimedia Foundation

Notify the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) office staff of the apparent suicide note or claim or threat of violence as soon as it is posted. Foundation staff have been the key responders in prior incidents. Contact can be made by emailing emergency@wikimedia.org, which forwards to several trained staff members who handle these incidents and are available to respond to emergency incidents even outside of normal business hours. This is the preferred method for reporting threats of harm to the Wikimedia Foundation; calling the office or emailing other addresses will simply delay the report from reaching the appropriate staff in a timely fashion. The WMF will take care of locating the user and contacting authorities. The WMF will nearly immediately acknowledge your email, so that you know they're working on it.

Contact administrators

Anyone who observes potentially suicidal or violent behavior (frequently made in discussion or announcements on talk or user pages) should notify Wikipedia administrators quickly. Possible venues for prompt attention include:

Administrators are advised to make such announcements even if they discover such behavior on their own. Other administrators may be able to help more effectively, and making a wider announcement is key to mobilizing such effort.

Once noticeboard threads have been responded to by appropriate parties, consider blanking them, possibly leaving a link to the last version of the thread for reference as needed.

Administrator action

Threats of violence to others should be met with blocking, generally including user talk pages. Threats or claims should be removed from any relevant pages, and are frequently deleted from page history. Use of revision deletion may be appropriate.

Discretion should be used in the case of potentially suicidal users or where a user threatens self harm.

See also