Facebook will work with users to prevent suicides

March 2, 2015

Now Facebook users will be able to help friends who exhibit suicidal tendencies. In collaboration with a handful of suicide prevention organizations, the site can do some good.

Social media is not just for sharing cute kitten videos and allowing retailers to launch targeted advertising campaigns. Sites like Facebook and Twitter can also help saves lives. It a world where businesses have access to a wealth of consumers online, it is nice to see that individuals who need help may also benefit from logging onto social media platforms. Now, Facebook users will be able to help friends who display suicidal tendencies. In collaboration with a handful of suicide prevention organizations, the site can do some good. 

Facebook will monitor posts and enable users to flag suicidal tendencies online
ITProPortal recently reported that Facebook is launching a new feature on the site, in collaboration with Compassion Research Day, that will help prevent suicides. A few months ago, Twitter introduced a similar feature by teaming up with suicide prevention workers in an effort to monitor keywords and phrases and also identify people struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.

According to SMN Weekly, Facebook’s new suicide prevention tool enables users to flag a post that they find alarming. Posts that seem to suggest suicidal behavior can be flagged by clicking on a dropdown menu and reporting the instance to Facebook itself. Users concerned about their friends will also have the choice of contacting their friend directly, informing that person’s family or connecting with a trained professional at a suicide hotline. Behind the scenes, Facebook will analyze reported posts and communicate with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which may also reach out to the person in question.

Facebook encourages social media users to help friends
While some point out that there may be privacy concerns with Facebook’s recent venture, the company is rolling out the feature regardless, according to ITProPortal. In collaboration with several charities and service organizations, Facebook intends to provide help for users who exhibit a tendency for self-harm or suicide. The news source pointed out that unlike Twitter’s tool, Facebook is not automatically monitoring content. Instead, it is enabling users to become responsible for their troubled friends. In a statement, Facebook described its intentions with the new feature.

“For those who may need help, we have significantly expanded the support and resources that are available to them the next time they log on to Facebook after we review a report of something they’ve posted,” the company said, according to the news source. “Besides encouraging them to connect with a mental health expert at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, we now also give them the option of reaching out to a friend and provide tips and advice on how they can work through these feelings. All of these resources were created in conjunction with our clinical and academic partners.”

Social media is not just for e-commerce, it can save lives
While it will be difficult for some readers to report their friends for their troubling posts, ultimately, this new feature will be a good thing. The suicide prevention services will be introduced to U.S. users over the next few months and plans are also being discussed to extend the program internationally.

SMN Weekly noted that Catherine Siciliano, associate area director for the American Foundation for Suicide, said an individual dies from suicide every 12.9 minutes. She added that suicide is the second leading cause of death in school children. Since Facebook has access to over 1 billion users, the new tool may prove to be highly beneficial. As previously stated, having an online presence can do more than feed the e-commerce machine. Apparently, social media can save lives too.

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