suicide prevention

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Facebook is now taking its suicide prevention to every one of the over 1.5 billion people using the social networking forum. With this move, Facebook has now decided to take a more active role in the life’s of its user’s globally. The new features makes it easier for users to bring the attention of Facebook to somebody who they deemed suicidal or trying to harm themselves.

suicide prevention

Antigone Davis, Facebook’s Global Head of Safety and  a researcher, Jennifer Guadagno made the announcement in a joint post on the Facebook Safety Page,

Today we’re updating the resources we offer to people around the world who may be experiencing self-injury or suicidal thoughts, as well as the support we offer to their concerned friends and family members.

Developed in collaboration with mental health organizations and with input from people who have personal experience with self-injury and suicide, these tools first launched in the US with the help of Forefront, Lifeline, and

Today, we are rolling them out around the world in collaboration with local partners and in all languages Facebook is available in.

Now, with the help of these new tools, if someone posts something on Facebook that makes you concerned about their well-being, you can reach out to them directly — and you also can also report the post to us. We have teams working around the world, 24/7, who review reports that come in. They prioritize the most serious reports like self-injury.

And, as of today, the resources we send to the person who posted something concerning will include an expanded set of options. People can now choose to reach out to a friend, contact a helpline, or see tips.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, it is important to call local emergency services right away. You can also visit our Help Center for information about how to support yourself or a friend:”

Facebook users in the US had had the benefit of the suicide prevention tool since February. In partnership with organizations such as Forefront,  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Now Matters Now (all of them organizations dedicated to the treatment of mental health issues), a user could report posts of someone they deemed suicidal to Facebook. A third party in the suicide prevention team would now review the post to decide whether to take action or not.

However, last February’s initiative is not even the first time Facebook is trying something like this though. Four years ago, in December 2011, a similar program was launched to help people with suicidal thoughts. In the 2011 program, users could contact a counsellor via Facebook chat.

The latest initiative, therfore seems to be a consolidation of all the earlier programs. The inference to draw from the announcement on Tuesday is that, Facebook is making the program bigger, better and more responsive to mental health issues. Time will tell how that works out.

How the Suicide Prevention Tool Works

suicide preventionThe suicide prevention tool is initiated by a drop down menu that is present beside any status update on Facebook. Tapping or clicking the drop down menu would reveal the report post options. From there, a concerned Facebook user can flag a particular post as suicidal or dangerous.

The flagged posts would be brought to the attention of hundreds of people around the world trained by the Facebook Safety team to handle crisis such as this. These group of people are on standby around the clock all week long.

According to the Facebook Safety team, the improvement to the suicide prevention tool means that flagged posts are reviewed very quickly. The suicide prevention team contacts the whistle blower with a set of options on how to help diffuse the situation. Some of these options include sending a specialized message directly to the person in danger and using the assistance of a mutual friend.

Also, if the specially trained workers deemed the report serious enough to take action, the suicidal person would be contacted directly by Facebook. The person in distressed will also be presented with a set of options in the form of texts and messages to help them out. The next time the person logs into Facebook, the help tips would be the first thing they see on their timeline or news feed.

Furthermore, Facebook has also published a manual to help users easily identify friends who are in need. Though specifically targeted at Indian Facebook users, the instructions in the manual can be applied in any situation. It requires very little tweaking to adapt it to our own local situation. It would be worthwhile to download and read the manual. You never know when you might need it.


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