Photo credit by nate bolt/Flickr.
By Autumn McLeod
Suicide is a real issue worldwide and in fact, it is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Suicidal tendencies affect all ages, though it occurs highly among those between the ages of 18 and 29, and in 2013 over 41,000 people ended their own lives, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Facebook has recently teamed up with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, as well as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to reduce the rates of suicide.
In 2011, Facebook announced that it would provide a link for users to report any suicidal posts. The person who posted the suicidal comment would then receive an email shortly after from Facebook providing them with the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. They would also receive a link that would lead them to a private chat session with a crisis worker.
This year, Facebook added new tools to connect individuals who post suicidal comments with those who report them. The person who makes the comment has the option of connecting with a friend or receiving advice on how to work through their suicidal feelings, according to Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention, an interdisciplinary organization based in the University of Washington’s School of Social Work that is working with Facebook on the project.
The new tools would also allow the person who flagged the post to reach out to the friend to show support or even allow them to seek support from a trained mental health worker.
Privacy advocates expressed their concerns about flagged posts remaining in a person’s Facebook history. However, Facebook assures that the entire process is confidential for both the person who flags the post and the person who makes the comment.
This is one of the best things that a social media site can do, especially in this modern age when young adults who use social media the most are contemplating suicide .
Suicidal thoughts or plans are not only shared on Facebook, but Twitter, as well.
If this program was extended to Twitter, which is where I have seen most suicidal posts, it could be more effective and impact a larger audience.
Social media has become a huge platform in the 21st century, so using it to combat a struggle that people face is smart and a necessity.
I have heard so many accounts from close friends of mine about those they knew who attempted suicide but did not succeed. They always felt bad because they wished they could have done something about it, and now this partnership with Facebook and mental health services allows them to do so.