Facebook is making it easier to help people who may be struggling with thoughts of suicide before they harm themselves. The social media site has partnered with several mental health organizations, including Forefront, Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Save.org, as well as consulted with people who had experience with attempted suicide or self-injury, and announced that it is rolling out new suicide prevention tools in the coming months.
If you see a worrisome post from a family member or friend on the site, you can report it to Facebook, which has teams working 24/7 to review the post and send help and resources to the poster. “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,” Rob Boyle, Facebook product manager, and Nicole Staubli, Facebook community operations safety specialist, wrote in a Facebook blog. “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.”
Boyle and Staubli added: “We’re also providing new resources and support to the person who flagged the troubling post, including options for them to call or message their distressed friend letting them know they care, or reaching out to another friend or a trained professional at a suicide hotline for support.”
Suicide claimed more than 41,000 lives in 2013 alone — that’s a death from suicide every 12.8 minutes that year, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. With these tools, Facebook may help reduce those numbers.
But if a friend or family member threatens to kill themselves or says they have no reason to live — whether in post on Facebook or in any other situation — you should immediately call the local emergency services or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to find out what resources are available in the area to get your loved one help right away.