It’s one of the largest communities in the world, and now, Facebook is leveraging that connectivity to provide support for those who need it most. On Wednesday, the social network announced it would be “updating the tools and resources we offer to people who may be thinking of suicide, as well as the support we offer to their concerned friends and family members.” These include integrated suicide prevention tools to help people in real time on Facebook Live, live chat support from crisis support organizations via Messenger, and streamlined reporting for suicide which will be assisted by artificial intelligence.
With more than a billion monthly active users, Facebook is easily the largest “friendship” hub on the planet. With so many loved ones effectively a click away, Facebook is hoping to make just about everyone someone’s keeper. “Facebook is in a unique position — through friendships on the site — to help connect a person in distress with people who can support them,” the company noted in an announcement, “It’s part of our ongoing effort to help build a safe community on and off Facebook.”
Of course, the social media platform doesn’t expect you to do everything on your own. Rather, Facebook is beefing up its own resources and partnerships with organizations like the Crisis Text Line, the National Eating Disorder Association, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. That way, should you or a loved one hit a rough patch, you will have access to experts.
While suicide prevention tools have been around on the site for more than a decade, technology has evolved, and as such, so has Facebook. For example, you can now support someone on Facebook Live. “People watching a live video have the option to reach out to the person directly and to report the video to us,” Facebook said. “We will also provide resources to the person reporting the live video to assist them in helping their friend.” As for the person recording, he or she will be presented with a set of resources directly onscreen.
Facebook also now allows you to connect with crisis support partners directly via Messenger and is also “testing a streamlined reporting process using pattern recognition in posts previously reported for suicide” so the network can better identify and anticipate potentially dangerous situations.
“Suicide prevention is one way we’re working to build a safer community on Facebook,” the company concluded, “With the help of our partners and people’s friends and family members on Facebook, we’re hopeful we can support more people over time.”