Why can’t you search Pinterest for “depression”?

Pinterest logo

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.

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.

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.


Visit the Mental Health @ Home Store for premium mental health resources, guided journals, how-to guides, and my books Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis and Psych Meds Made Simple.

Share this:

15 thoughts on “Why can’t you search Pinterest for “depression”?

  1. Luftmentsch says:

    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. marandarussell says:

    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. Meg says:

    Do you know what this made me think of? If you go and take the personality questionnaire at eHarmony.com, like, to get matched to a guy, and you give negative answers about yourself, then eHarmony will actually reject you and say you’re not “matchable.” This happened to me years ago with their site. (Probably still true.)

    Great post!! I only have a vague familiarity with Pinterest. I’ve never searched on it for anything, but I’ve found some images on it through Google image searching and such. What you stumbled upon seems very odd. Huh.

  4. eirlysgwenllian says:

    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?

Leave a Reply