New Suicide Prevention Feature on Facebook

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

Do you have people on your Facebook friend list that often post vague updates about their life, leaving you to wonder if he or she are struggling? Or, maybe you have seen status updates that are clearly even more concerning, informing followers about a state of depression and that he or she is considering self-harm.  Unfortunately, this is a very common occurrence and happens all the time in the social media world today. Facebook recognizes this growing issue and has launched a new feature for suicide prevention. The site has partnered with Now Matters Now, Save.org, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention (a nonprofit that is based out of the University of Washington’s School of Social Work). 

Here’s how it works: If one of your Facebook friends posts something that sounds like he or she is thinking about suicide, there will be an arrow at the top of the post with the option to “report post.” Once you click on that, you’ll see various options: contact the friend, contact someone else for support, or contact a suicide helpline. Once it’s reported, Facebook officials will see the post and if it’s determined that there is a problem, there will be contact made with the person who made the original post. They will receive a message from Facebook asking if they need to reach out and talk to a friend or helpline worker, or if they want simple support and tips. Facebook can help find someone an expert in self-care, it can also provide video testimonials from people who have worked through suicidal thoughts, and also provides simple techniques to ground the person and bring them back to what really matters. Right now, about 50% of Facebook users have access to this reporting tool and the company hopes to roll it out to the rest of the country in the next few months. (1) 

Depression is at an all-time high today, especially among youth and young adults. Many people simply don’t see a way out of the dark pit that they are in and suicide appears to be the only option. Each life is treasured and has value; it is not something easily cast aside or thrown away. If you or someone you know is living with depression or if there any other mental illnesses present, seek professional medical help immediately. 

 

 

1.Kleinman, Alexis. “Facebook Adds New Feature For Suicide Prevention.” The Huffington Post. February 25, 2015. Accessed March 10, 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/25/facebook-suicide-prevention_n_6754106.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063