Facebook Creates New Support Tool to Help People Who are Suicidal

April 15, 2016

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

The Mighty

Facebook has developed a new support tool that offers friends and families several ways of helping loved ones who may feel suicidal.The social networking site created it in partnership with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education and Forefront. “In the past, our focus has been on helping Facebook members report friends… so Facebook could get their friends the help they need,” said John Draper, executive director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. “This new approach is not just about reporting friends in a suicidal crisis, it’s about supporting them.” With several clicks, readers of a post can get to a menu with options for providing help. The first is to call local emergency services right away if the person is in immediate danger. If it is not an emergency, there are several other choices. One enables the reader to send a support message directly to the person, and suggested text is available if the reader is not sure what to say. Another choice allows the reader to message a mutual friend or a friend who lives near the person. A third choice is to chat online or talk with a trained helper at the Lifeline about how to support the person. Another option is to ask Facebook to review the post and make resources available to the person without saying who reported the post. The person will automatically receive a pop-up message with links to the following resources: Get support from Facebook, contact a friend, contact a professional to talk with, and get tips for supporting yourself.

Spark Extra! For more information on this support tool, see the 7-minute video “From Reporting to Supporting: Using Facebook to Support Someone in Suicidal Crisis.”