Are you guilty of sadfishing?

Niki Bruce
(PHOTO: Getty Images)

What is sadfishing? Are you guilty of it? Everything we need to know about yet another new social media phenomenon that’s affecting young people around the world. 

A recent BBC report highlighted that teachers in the UK are concerned about the rise of another new social media trend among students, the act of ‘sadfishing’ which is when young people make “exaggerated claims about their emotional problems to generate sympathy”. 

The real problem, however, is that trolls or followers see any kind of reference to not feeling super happy as being just an excuse to get sympathy, even if the people making the statements are truly suffering from some sort of depression or other emotional problems. 

Saying on your Instagram post that you’ve had a bad day, or that you aren’t feeling perfectly happy, shouldn’t lead to people accusing you of ‘sadfishing’ just to get attention, but at the same time, moaning on and on about how depressed you are when actually you’re not, isn’t a great thing to be doing either. 

(PHOTO: Getty Images)

It’s an awkward situation. Who is really depressed and needing sympathy and understanding? Who is just ‘fishing’ for attention? How can we tell? 

The number one way to tell if someone is really in trouble is if they start talking about suicide. Comments like ‘people will be better off without me’, or ‘I have nothing to live for anymore’, should be taken seriously, especially if the person has also been deeply depressed for some time, talks about feeling worthless, or becomes obsessed with death and dying. This is particularly important if the person is usually not dramatic and these comments appear suddenly. In these cases it is best to be proactive, just in case. 

If, on the other hand, the person regularly makes dramatic comments about their ‘life being over’, or overreacts to something small like a friend forgetting their birthday, then these claims are probably more likely to be an attack of sadfishing. 

Looking for comfort and support from your friends and family when something bad happens is perfectly normal. Posting about it constantly and in detail on your social media is not. So if you find yourself doing this all the time but your life is basically fine, you could be indulging in a bit of sadfishing. 

If you, or someone you know, is suffering from depression or having thoughts about suicide, please contact:

Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) on 1800 394 4673, or go to

Befrienders Malaysia on +60 3-7955 8145, or go to www.