As people mirror their lives through social media more and more, Facebook is trying to use its vast reach to help stem the tide of suicides beleaguering communities worldwide.
With 1.09 billion daily active as of March, 2016—90 percent of whom access the site via mobile phone—Facebook has access to billions of comments, photos, and reactions.
Now, if someone posts something on Facebook that raises a concern that they are suicidal or want to inflict self-harm, you can either reach out to them directly, or report the post to Facebook.
The report will ask for the person in concern’s Facebook URL, a link to the post, and an option to include a screenshot of the post.
The company’s around-the-clock teams worldwide will review the reports that are submitted, and prioritize the most serious ones, like self-injury.
Facebook will send resources to the person who posted something concerning, including suggestions to call a loved one, contact a helpline, or getting tips and support.
The company suggests that those who see a direct threat of suicide on Facebook call authorities or a suicide hotline immediately. The social media behemoth also asks that worried users mention if the person in concern is a member of the U.S. military, so they can provide specific support.
Facebook unveiled the suicide prevention tool to users around the world on June 14.
Antigone Davis, Facebook’s Global Head of Safety, and Jennifer Guadagno, a researcher, made the announcement in a post.
The tool is available in all languages Facebook is available in.
The new feature was first launched last year in the United States in collaboration with Forefront, Lifeline, and Save.org. About 84.2 percent of the daily active users reside outside of the United States and Canada.
Facebook says it will continue to work with mental health organizations worldwide.
Over one million people commit suicide annually worldwide. On average, one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds somewhere in the world, and global suicide rates have jumped by 60 percent in the past 45 years, according to Suicide.org.
Suicide numbers have spiked in the United States, especially among middle-aged white people, says a report released by the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on April 22. Overall, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and suicide rates have risen by 24 percent from 1999 to 2014.
Suicide Lifeline Information
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open 24 hours, 7 days a week at: 1-800-273-8255 (English and Spanish).
There is a lot of information available on the organization’s website, including for veterans, young adults, and bully victims.
Suicide Risk Factors
The Suicide Prevention Lifeline website identifies the following suicide risk factors. “Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that an individual will consider, attempt, or die by suicide,” the website states.
- Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and certain personality disorders
- Alcohol and other substance use disorders
- Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
- History of trauma or abuse
- Major physical illnesses
- Previous suicide attempt
- Family history of suicide
- Job or financial loss
- Loss of relationship
- Easy access to lethal means
- Local clusters of suicide
- Lack of social support and sense of isolation
- Stigma associated with asking for help
- Lack of health care, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
- Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma
- Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)