Your Facebook News Feed is a collection of positive, negative, and neutral posts. Some of these posts might be congratulatory, such as your friend’s graduation; others might be sombre, such as the passing of a loved one. Each and every day we are exposed to countless emotions and experiences. Unfortunately, some posts on Facebook are a cry for help. Do you know how to spot them? A new feature – a support tool – has been released which allows you to notify Facebook if you think a friend might be going through a difficult time or is even contemplating suicide.

Facebook Tool for Suicide Prevention

10 Years of Research

A Facebook team of over one dozen engineers and researchers studied and developed the project over the past 10 years. The issue surfaced after two high schools in Palo Alto, California, experienced suicide rates that were up to five times higher than the national average. Something clearly had to be done. Now that the tool is developed and being implemented, there are also hundreds of Facebook employees around the world who are working to monitor flagged posts, all day – every day.

“People really want to help, but often they just don’t know what to say, what to do, or how to help their friends,” said Vanessa Callison-burch, Facebook product manager who is working on the new project.

How does the suicide prevention tool work?

Currently, Facebook is rolling out this new feature. You will be able to view a menu of options for a post that will allow you to either send a Facebook message directly to your distressed loved one, or to talk to another friend who might be able to assist. The researchers on this project have developed suggested text that inputs into the message, where users can fill in the blanks. Moreover, a list of resources, such as suicide prevention materials and distress help lines, will be provided.

Facebook Suicide Prevention

Until you receive this feature, content that you think may be suicidal can be reported at this link.


NY Times