On February 25, 2015, Facebook unveiled a new, socially-motivated feature that could potentially save lives.
The new suicide prevention tool, developed with the help of various mental-health awareness organizations, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Save.org, enables users to report distressing posts that could indicate a friend’s intention to hurt themselves. Such a report will guide the user in offering help to their friend, as well as trigger a Facebook review of the post and possibly-dangerous situation.
Facebook became aware that many suicidal social media users posted warning signs before hurting themselves. The world’s biggest social network (more than 1.39 billion users) is, therefore, uniquely able to provide a warning and support system for such situations. “Often, friends and family who are the observers in this situation don’t know what to do,” said Holly Hetherington, a Facebook content strategist. “They’re concerned, but they’re worried about saying the wrong thing or somehow making it worse. Socially, mental illness and thoughts about suicide are just not something we talk about.”
The new tool is expected to appear on the site within the next few months.
If you or someone you know has suicidal feelings, you can get help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).