Recognising their ”unique position” to connect users with support workers, and reiterating their goal of creating ”a safe community on and off Facebook”, the social media site are building on earlier efforts to tackle suicide-related posts, starting with tests in the US.
Partnerships with various crisis organisations, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, have enabled Facebook to improve so-called ‘suicide tools’ already in place. These include:
* Real-time chat support from crisis organisations, or the suggestion to contact the emergency services
* More advanced suicide reporting tools, such as the option to report troubling videos on Facebook Live in real time, as well as AI recognition, which looks at patterns in posts to identify and reach out to concerning individuals – negating the need for content to be reported by users
* A variety of support options for the user at risk and/or friends and family, such as reaching out to others, contacting a helpline, basic advice, and, in the case of family friends, the ability to send messages with suggested content to ‘initiate conversation’
* An improved Help Centre to offer further support
Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, recently posted about the site’s mission to build communities that are supportive, safe, informed, civically-engaged and inclusive. He commented that ”[some] suicides…perhaps could have been prevented if…reported sooner”. One of the partners, Samaritans, told BBC Newsbeat: ”Suicide is not inevitable, it is preventable. This tool plays a really vital role in achieving that.”
Image credit: Sean MacEntee on Flickr.