Stop the Stigma

Why Can’t You Search Pinterest for “Depression”?

Why can't you search Pinterest for depression?

I discovered this quite a while back, but it just popped into my mind again recently.  Pinterest won’t let you search for the word “depression”.  If you try, it gives no results, just this message: “If you’re in emotional distress or thinking about suicide, help is available.”  If you search for “depressed” or “major depression”, though, that’s totally okay.

Okay, so time to try a few more search terms.  Searching for “suicide” gives you the safety message, but you still get your search results.  If you type in “suicidal”, it’s the same situation as with depression; you get the safety message and no search results.

How does Pinterest treat other, more charged words?

Curious to see what Pinterest would do with far more problematic and disturbing terms, I did some more searching.  Psychotic, PTSD, trauma, homicide, homicidal, violence, abuse, killing, murder, stalking, and rape are all okay, with no safety messages. “Nigger” gets no results and a message about hate speech.  “Whore” gives no results, with a message that “Some nudity is okay for Pinterest, some isn’t.”  “Incest” and “slut” generate search results, but the same caution about nudity.

“Help is available”?

It seems just plain bizarre that the word depression is an issue but homicidal isn’t.  Well, time to explore this a little more.  So I clicked on Pinterest’s “help is available” link.  It takes you to a questionnaire.  The first question asks whether you’re having thoughts of suicide right now.  It then provides a crisis line number and says to call them if it’s an emergency.  Following this, multiple choice answers are given: no and maybe.

If you click no, it takes you to the next question, which is a multiple choice asking what you’re struggling with.  It suggests that you could try a crisis line, the Live Better app, or the Calm meditation app.

If you click maybe, it then provides crisis line resources and asks if you’re likely to use them, and why you might be reluctant to.

To me this whole thing just seems downright strange.  Who are they helping by showing search results for depressed/suicide but not depression/suicidal?  Suicidal I can at least kind of get it, but to treat depression as a scary word is complete nonsense.  What is wrong with this world when homicidal is just fine but depression is unacceptable?

I get the sense that someone in the Pinterest powers that be has decided this is a way for them to cover their ass.  Perhaps a little less ignorance would serve them much better.

Note: Since this post was written, you can now search for depression, but Pinterest gives the warning “If you’re feeling sad or stressed, here are some resources that may help improve your mood,” along with a link to a few resources.

book cover: Managing the Depression Puzzle, Second Edition, by Ashley L. Peterson

Managing the Depression Puzzle takes a holistic look at the different potential pieces that might fit into your unique depression puzzle.

It’s published by MH@H Books and available on Amazon and Google Play.

14 thoughts on “Why Can’t You Search Pinterest for “Depression”?”

  1. It’s probably someone trying to cover themselves as you say and not thinking it through properly. Maybe someone wrote to complain about “depression” but not “homicidal”.

  2. That does seem weird. I can see why they do that somewhat with suicide, but with depression? If you look up depression you are probably looking for things to help you feel better, you would think they would want you to find those. I do get why they may add the warning, but you would think they would still share results. Not everyone who is depressed is suicidal anyhow.

  3. Wow strange thing really! I would like to believe that they had good intentions doing this and just wanted to help people with depression (although the way they do it is really quite peculiar), but it really looks very ignorant, unhelpful and stigmatising, that even the word depression is SOOO SCARY let’s better don’t talk about it because we might end up getting it. Well I think that even for people with depression the right kind of knowledge about their illness is a very good and helpful thing so why do they want to block them from learning about it? Just weird, and you are right, if depression is so bad and too scary to even raise this topic, then why for example homicide isn’t?

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