According to a report from Reuters published on Tuesday, the social network company Facebook has launched an update that allows users to report any content posted on the site and categorize the post as “suicidal content” in the options. Facebook then sends an email to the suicidal user which contains methods of contact to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline which include a URL link for a direct online chat or the phone number. The chatting option allows potentially suicidal Facebook users to talk with a crisis counselor through an instant message format of communication.
According to John Draper, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s project director, the organization was interested in opening up a new line of communication for anyone contemplating suicide. He stated “Although the Lifeline on average handles 70,000 calls per month, we have heard from our Facebook fans and others that there are many people in crisis who don’t feel comfortable picking up the phone. This new service provides a way for them to get the help they need in the way they want it.” While nearly 100 Americans die by suicide each day, the organization hopes that number can be reduced by providing more avenues to reach a counselor through digital methods of contact.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline plans to schedule trained employees 24 hours a day, seven days a week to be available for chat sessions. Previous to the implementation of the option in the reporting tool, Facebook users could still report potentially suicidal users by filling out a form on the social network which is relayed back to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This form includes the name of the person that posted the content, the Web address leading to the profile or search listing as well as additional relevant information that would help a crisis counselor converse with the user.