It seems like now more than ever Facebook is showing users that the page is more than a website, it’s a community. We saw it when the social network encouraged users to educate themselves about Ebola and donate to research. We saw it when Mark Zuckerberg and company joined forces with Amber Alert. Now, as announced at Facebook’s fifth annual Compassion Research Day, we’re seeing it in the form of suicide prevention.
According to Facebook, the company has been preventing self harm since 2012. Three years ago, alarmed users could report an alarming post by using the drop down menu at the top right corner of a post. Next, they’d send a screenshot of the post and a link to the profile of the user in question. The user who created the post would then receive an email from Facebook, including contact information for suicide prevention resources.
Today, the reporting process is easier with more options of action. Mental health organizations including Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention, Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) and Save.org have joined the campaign. Now, simply click “report a post” and you’re given options to contact the friend, contact another friend for support, or contact a suicide helpline for guidance. With no copying and pasting of links, this version is mobile friendly, too.
Once reviewed, if the post is thought to be a red flag, Facebook contacts that user the next time they are logged onto Facebook. Options of positive action include reaching out to a friend or a professional as well as trying some coping mechanisms and watching videos of others who have struggled with self harm.
“Keeping you safe is our most important responsibility on Facebook,” Rob Boyle, Facebook Product Manager & Nicole Staubli, Facebook Community Operations Safety Specialist.
While convenient, this update is NOT a replacement for contacting emergency services. It is a big step, though. Many people may see dark posts and think they can’t do anything because they are not professionals, and don’t want to say the wrong thing. Now, you don’t have to be an expert to make the right move.