New Facebook feature for suicide prevention

facebookNow you can more easily help save the lives of friends who might appear distressed, through a new updated Facebook feature.

If a Facebook friend posts something that indicates he might be thinking of harming himself, users can click on an arrow on the post to report it.

Facebook will then offer options to contact the friend, contact another friend for support or contact a suicide helpline, reported LA Times.

The social network partnered with mental health organisations Forefront, Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and to develop the tool.

“One of the first things these organisations discussed with us was how much connecting with people who care can help those in distress,” Facebook product manager Rob Boyle and community operations safety specialist Nicole Staubli wrote in a Facebook post.

“We have teams working around the world, 24/7, who review any report that comes in. They prioritise the most serious reports, like self-injury, and send help and resources to those in distress,” they added.

Facebook has given users a way to report potentially suicidal content since 2011, but the previous feature required users to upload screenshots or a link of the post to the company’s suicide prevention page.

The updated version of the feature integrates the ability to report a post into the post itself. It lets users flag content on both the desktop and mobile version of the social network that they find concerning.

Currently, the updated feature is accessible by a limited number of users in the US. Facebook plans to roll out the service more widely in the coming months.

Concerned friends simply click “report” next to the post and are given some options.

Friends will see tips including a suicide prevention hotline and can choose to message the person who wrote the troubling post.

If they choose that option, Facebook has a pre-written message ready to send. People can also opt for Facebook to intervene.

If Facebook’s worldwide team determines that a user’s post is troubling, the user will need to review a page of options the next time he logs in.

A private message on the page will greet the user, then say “a friend thinks you might be going through something difficult and asked us to look at your recent post”.

Then, the user will have the option to contact someone, look at suicide prevention tips or skip the message.