Facebook is Helping Prevent Suicide

Sep 28, 2012

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Facebook has announced a new feature that allows users to notify Facebook when friends post potentially suicidal content. Facebook will then send an email to the individual, encouraging them to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or to start a chat session with a crisis worker. U. S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin stated that “the latest research shows that suicide is preventable, suicidal behaviors are treatable, and the support of families, friends, and colleagues are critical protective factors. Suicide prevention needs to be addressed in the comprehensive, coordinated way outlined in the national strategy.”

With the recent news that increased Internet use can be linked to depression, Facebook is likely to be an outlet for those seeking to tell others how they feel. Those who need help might be too depressed or embarrassed to share their feelings in person or they might be far away from friends they would otherwise confide in. This tool, then, provides a way for concerned friends to connect potentially suicidal individuals with professional help, regardless of location.

Said Facebook’s Global VP for Public Policy, Marne Lewis, about the new feature, “All too often, people in crisis do not know how—or who—to ask for help. At Facebook, we have a unique opportunity to provide the right resources to our users in distress, when and where they need them the most. By enabling connection to trained and caring professionals around the world, we can do our part to let users know help is available. Through a concerted and coordinated effort on the part of private industry, government, and concerned family and friends, we can make a real difference in preventing suicide and saving lives.”

This new Facebook feature is wonderful news. Suicide is always a tragedy and however small, every effort in the fight against it can help. If your teenagers have Facebook accounts, make sure they know about this new feature and encourage them to use it if needed. You can also take the opportunity to talk to them about suicide and how it can be prevented.

While your kids are looking out for their friends, you can continue to look out for them by using parental controls to stay aware of what your own children are saying online and taking action if anything ever signals they need help.

I work for ContentWatch and all opinions expressed here are my own.