Over the past few years, Facebook has increasingly grown into an important part of our daily lives. And for good reason. It’s a wonderful place that allows us to stay closely connected to family and friends by sharing our lives through status updates and pictures.
It’s also a place we use to talk about our feelings and thoughts on a variety of topics. We do it so often Facebook added an “Add what you’re doing or feeling” feature to posts. Now you can share when you’re feeling silly, tired, or fed up with an icon; or let people know the exact name of the song you’re listening to at any given moment.
Being able to tell so much about ourselves and what we’re feeling to people we’re friends with on Facebook (or any social media network) is extremely powerful. This is especially true for anyone going through a crisis in life or who may feel alone and needs someone to talk to, especially if they’re having suicidal thoughts.
As the largest and most used social media network, Facebook is leveraging their power to connect people in times they need it most. On March 4, 2015, Facebook began rolling out a new suicide prevention feature, created in partnership with a number of mental health organizations like Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This tool will allow people to reach out to family and friends who’ve posted concerning things on Facebook and connect them to online resources to help them.
If someone you’re friends with on Facebook posts something you feel indicates he or she might be at risk of harming themselves, you can click on the arrow in the top right-hand corner of their post and select “Report Post.” Next, you’ll be given options to directly contact the person that made the post, contact another one of your friends for support, or contact a suicide helpline.
Based on the choice you make, Facebook will review the post, and if they believe the post indicates distress, they’ll contact the person who posted it with a pop-up message the next time they log in to ask if they need help.
If the individual whose post was reported decides to use this new feature, they’re offered options to call a friend, send a Facebook message to a friend, or contact a suicide prevention expert through message or phone. Facebook will also offer a series of videos that feature true stories of people who have dealt with thoughts of suicide, along with a variety of relaxation techniques people may use like cooking or going for a walk.
Facebook’s new initiative is a big step in the right direction of suicide prevention. It can be hard to talk to a family member or friend about suicide, and this new feature gives people a way of reaching out in a time they might not know what to say.
Suicide is a challenging social issue that we must all work together to address. It’s a consideration and act that impacts hundreds and thousands of people every year. And it’s 100 percent preventable with the right level of support and treatment.
We must all be aware of the warning signs for depression, suicide, and other mental health conditions in our family and friends. By being constantly alert and educated about the resources available, such as this new tool from Facebook; we can all work together to save more lives.
That’s something we can all “Like.”