ThreadThe mental health of this community [Read Staff Post Before Posting]
I think you're really discounting the potential damage from locking a thread where someone is crying out for help. For one, people with depression often feel like they are a burden to others, and feel too guilty to even reach out for help. That, and that any help is pointless, because things could not possibly get better. Immediately locking these threads can come across as dismissive and isolating, which is he last thing we want to do.
I also feel that you're also ignoring the fact that many posts in these threads are specifically urging the OP to seek professional help (or explaining how therapy has helped them), and are merely offering emotional support, not therapy. The idea that locking the thread with a boilerplate message is less damaging to the mental state of a suicidal person than allowing people to express words of comfort and support is something I'm struggling to comprehend. And I say that as someone who has struggled with similar thoughts and feelings as these members. The last thing you want to make someone in this state of mind feel is that they're alone, or a burden to others. Which is the message that instantly locking these threads can send.
I understand where the concern is coming from, as there are potential negative consequences no matter what you do. I'm also the type of person who find these threads difficult to read at times, depending on my own mental health, and that informs how much I am able to monitor them myself, or whether I ask other staff members to take over. So I understand that it can be tough to see these threads. But we have to balance everyone's needs, and that includes people who are in need of urgent support. Speaking from personal experience, I often feel too guilty to even talk to close friends and loved ones about my own struggles, since that above mentioned feeling of being a 'burden' pops up. But I'm fortunate to have some kind of support group, and it's thanks to this peer support that I was able to seek professional help, which greatly accelerated my own healing process. This is what peer support does. When someone is in that dark state of mind, even getting professional help can seem pointless. Some people are also incapable of seeking professional help at all based on their circumstances. Engaging with and encouraging members can keep them going until they can get the support that they need.
I will also add that if any member sees an unhelpful or insensitive comment in such a thread, please report it. We will at the very least remove the post.