New Facebook feature works to prevent suicide

Posted by Jenny Krane

Photo by Bloomberg

Photo by Bloomberg

In February of 2015, Facebook announced a new feature: reporting self-threatening or suicidal posts as a way to attempt to prevent suicide. To create this feature, Facebook partnered with suicide-preventative organizations like Forefront and Save.org.

With an increase in cyber-bullying and self-injury in teenagers in the past 10 years, this feature is an important development in social media. Suicidal posts on social media are often a cry for help, and this feature provides a way to help a friend or acquaintance in need.

In reporting a suicidal post, the reporter has the option to message the person whose post they are reporting, message another friend to form a support group, talk to a trained helper, call suicide hotline, or ask Facebook determine whether the post is life-threatening and needs to be addressed.

The next time the person whose post is being reported logs on to Facebook, they will be notified that a friend reported their post and will be given links to advice and videos compiled by experts to help someone in crisis.

This new Facebook feature is an easier way to reach out and help a friend in crisis. Often, it can be difficult to know what to do or what to say to help someone. This feature is an important development in social media and how people use it.

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8 responses to “New Facebook feature works to prevent suicide

  1. I think this is a great addition to Facebook, but I wonder what Facebook will do if that post is immediately life-threatening?

    I think the fact that the suicidal person is notified people reported their post shows that person that friends actually care. Through my experience with suicidal friends, that seems to be a major factor.

    Hopefully, if the occasion arises, people will utilize this tool and potentially save somebody’s life.

    • I think this was a great idea on Facebook’s part. But I’m wondering: did you know about this feature before my post? If not, more people should be aware that this feature exists, and that’s on Facebook to promote it and educate people.

      • kelseagraham

        I saw one article on my newsfeed about it, but I didn’t get the details! I’m surprised I hadn’t heard more about it.

  2. YES YES YES. GO FACEBOOK. This is such an important issue that isn’t being taken seriously enough by the generation before us. Although I can see a few loopholes where this maybe wouldn’t be affective (goodbye notes immediately before a suicide, cryptic messages that are difficult to dissect, similar issues, etc), this is definitely a step in the right direction. Any life that can be saved or prolonged, even in the slightest, is an accomplished feat.

  3. I LOVE this idea, but I have a couple reservations about the process. I think the fact that you can see who reports the post/receive a message from them might deter some people from reporting. They might not want the original poster to think they’re attacking them or imposing. I’m hoping Facebook comes up with a way to anonymously report, just to make sure all posts of that nature get reported. That being said, I definitely agree with Molly that any efforts to save lives are better than no efforts!!

  4. I agree that this new feature should be more widely advertised. I would have had no idea it existed if not for your blog, Jenny. It’s a great addition to Facebook, but I hope it allows for more than just an online service. Sure, it’s much easier to help from behind a computer screen with a simple push of a button, but it’s be even more beneficial if it sparks face-to-face encouragement as well.

  5. I know a lot of people with suicidal thought have trouble contacting professionals that can help them, and I’m really excited that Facebook may be able to help them create a better opinion of these people willing to help. I agree that this is a wonderful step in the right direction. I am curious though—with Facebook’s target market age on the rise, do you think other social media platforms that target younger audiences (Instagram, Twitter, etc.) will pick up this feature as well?

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