Facebook has enhanced and expanded the geographical reach of tools designed to rescue people whose social media behavior signals a possible intention to commit suicide. Facebook users can report a worrying post, receive guidance from trained experts on how to help their friend, and if evaluated as an immediate threat get instructions on how to alert emergency services. If deemed serious, the reporting will also trigger a stream of suggestions for getting help into the distressed person’s Facebook news feed.
Given the intense connection that many people have with social media—Facebook has about 1.4 billion users—some experts believe the new tools can have a tangible impact.
The Mighty has a good illustrated guide on how it works here.
The New York Times had a story on June 15 explaining how the new tools work.
Also read the report from the website of the University of Washington, whose Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention organization collaborated with Facebook on the tools. The new tools were announced at Compassion Research Day at Facebook headquarters on February 25.
[If you or someone you know feels the need to speak with a mental health professional, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.]