Facebook Can Now Check On Potential Suicide Victims

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As recently as last month, Facebook was in the news after a user shot his wife before turning the gun on himself in a double suicide. Now it appears the social media giant has launched a new tool to help prevent its user-base from committing such acts, The BBC reports.

Anyone who uses Facebook will be able to flag any posts they feel are of concern, according to the latest developments. Facebook strategist, Holly Hetherington, says the new suicide prevention tool will be useful for friends and family who are worried about someone, but are unable to help in any physical way.

Often, friends and family who are the observers in this situation don’t know what to do

The Guardian says that the new tool that Facebook is currently rolling out will allow people who have reported any content to gain access to resources, such as hotlines, in order to help whoever they’re concerned about. While the tool is currently only available in the US, the site have said they will be looking at making the option available in other countries.

“If someone on Facebook sees a direct threat of suicide, we ask that they contact their local emergency services immediately.”

Once the the message has been flagged and Facebook feels the matter needs attention, the person on the other end will be contacted by the site and encouraged to seek help by either connecting to a close friend, family member or the US National Suicide Prevention Line.

“The person who flags the post will see a screen with links that allow them to message the potentially suicidal person, contact another Facebook friend for support or connect with a trained professional at a suicide helpline for guidance.”

Facebook’s Operation Manager, Stephen Paul Miller, feels an affinity towards the suicide prevention idea after a college friend killed himself five years ago, who Miller was unable to reach in time. He said, ‘the thing that breaks my heart the most about this is that I think it was just episodic. I don’t think he wanted to die…But I was not trained. I did not know what to do.’

This latest feature builds from a previous idea implemented by Facebook in 2011, in which a user could report a message, which would be sent directly to the US National Suicide Prevention Line or the Samaritans in the UK. This updated tool will involve a team of trained professionals and access to greater help for any Facebook account holder who is concerned about someone who is having suicidal thoughts.

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