Facebook Reaching Out To Users Who Might Be Suicidal

Facebook began rolling out a set of tools on Wednesday that aim to help prevent suicide.

You can now report posts to Facebook that seem to show someone suffering from suicidal thoughts. A third party will review reported posts, then decide whether to reach out to the user with advice and support.

If Facebook contacts a user, they will see this popup:


It lets the user know that “a friend thinks you might be going through something difficult and asked us to look at your recent post.” Only the user can see this popup and everything that follows.

Several options follow:


You can then choose to talk to someone — either a friend or a helpline worker — or get tips and support. “You’re not alone — we do this for many people every month,” says the notification.

Facebook has been the target of criticism in the past for a perceived lack of sensitivity. Last October, Facebook apologized after mistakenly labeling transgender people’s names as “fake” under its “real name” policy.

For this set of alerts, Facebook partnered with mental health organizations to make sure it was using the right language to talk to potentially suicidal people. The organizations include Forefront,Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Save.org and more.

Just as important: the option to reach out to a friend.

“One of the things that really improves outcomes is increased social connectedness,” said Rob Boyle, Facebook’s product manager, in a video describing the new tools. “That’s what we do, is help people connect and help people interact.”

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