Facebook brings new suicide prevention tools

The World Health Organization reported suicide as the second leading cause of death among ages 15 to 29 in March 2017. “Any number lost to suicide in my opinion is too much,” said Senior Licensed Mental Health Counselor Jennifer Berry. 

The World Health Organization reported suicide as the second leading cause of death among ages 15 to 29 in March 2017.

Last month, Facebook introduced suicide prevention tools for users to reach out to others on the site who may be considering suicide.

At least seven suicides have occurred through live streaming since Facebook Live was introduced in April 2016, according to Dan Reidenberg, executive director of Save.org.

Although the site already has other suicide prevention features, such as the option to report posts that bring concern about someone’s well-being and have helpful resources sent to them, this is the first time any are available through Facebook Live or Messenger.

Now, if users think a person they are watching live is expressing suicidal thoughts, they can report the video. From there, the site’s resources, which include tips on handling the situation, the option to reach out to a friend and access to a helpline, will immediately go to the broadcaster.

The person who reported the video will also receive information on how to help the friend.

If users need to contact an organization that provides support through emotional distress, users now have the option to chat with someone live through Facebook Messenger.

The organizations involved include the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Crisis Text Line and the National Eating Disorder Association.

Senior Licensed Mental Health Counselor Jennifer Berry said because each person is different, it is hard to tell how big of an advantage the tools will be.

“The tools are good if they could produce the results that they’re helping,” said senior Kenson St. Remy. “There’s a lot of people on Facebook that’s probably depressed and need those resources.”

Facebook is also using artificial intelligence to run tests using data from reported content to recognize posts potentially related to self-injury or suicide. The site’s community operations team then reviews the posts to determine if they should send resources to the user.

Freshman Courtney Conaway said she thinks people should raise awareness.

“Maybe (with these tools) people will see that there’s other options,” Conaway said.

Berry said she encourages students struggling with suicidal thoughts to  talk to somebody.

“Any number lost to suicide in my opinion is too much,” she said.

If someone is considering suicide, dial 9-1-1 or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

To set an appointment with UNA Student Counseling Services, call 256-765-5215 or email [email protected].