Facebook Debuts Anti-Suicide Program

Dennis Faas's picture

Last year, the FCC announced it would be making plans to update and allow text messages, pictures, and streaming video for 911 emergencies via cell phones. Now, a new technology will allow Facebook users a way to discuss their problems with a professional via live chat.

Facebook has recently announced a partnership with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The program will give social networking users who experience clinical depression a new way to find help quickly and privately.

Friends can Report to Facebook Team

If a suicidal memo is left on a Facebook wall, for example, friends "are able to report suicidal behavior by clicking a report option next to any piece of content on the site and choosing suicidal content under the harmful behavior option." (Source: reuters.com)

Facebook says troubled users will then be able to open a new link into a live chat with a specialist trained in helping people deal with severe depression.

People concerned about others experiencing depression can also contact Facebook, which will then send a message to the troubled individual recommending they discuss their issues with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Facebook Not Tracking Activity for Suicidal Notes

The partners hope to increase awareness about depression. However, Facebook won't be tracking user activities (to do so would be considered by many a serious invasion of privacy). Instead, users and their friends are asked to keep track of troubling activity that may indicate someone is considering suicide. (Source: zdnet.com)

This isn't the first time Facebook and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline have worked together.

In fact, the two groups have been cooperating to identify possible suicide cases via Facebook for about five years now. What's new is the option to click on a link and immediately enter a live chat with a professional trained in suicide prevention. In the past, contacting Lifeline required the individual seeking help make a phone call instead.

Clicking a Link Easier Than Picking Up the Phone

"A lot of people would rather communicate via chat or text, as opposed to calling," said Lifeline associate project director, Lidia Bernik.

"This is an attempt to reach people in a medium where they are most comfortable." (Source: cnet.com)

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin says she believes the new program will make reaching out to suicidal individuals a lot easier and a lot more effective.

"I'm excited about the new initiative to augment its response to potentially suicidal members by offering the opportunity for a private chat with a trained crisis representative from the Suicide Prevention Lifeline in addition to providing the Lifeline's phone number," Benjamin said.

If you need to talk to someone about depression or suicide, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by clicking here or calling 800-273-TALK.

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