Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Facebook Launches Suicide Prevention Effort


Facebook announced this week that it's working with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on a program designed to help save lives.

The new service enables Facebook users to click on a link and be taken to a page where they can enter into a live chat with a suicide prevention specialist. There is also a reporting link where users can alert Facebook, if they see something on a person's profile that causes them to think that the person is in severe distress. Facebook will send a message to that person to encourage them to contact the Lifeline.

Facebook isn't using technology or people to look for suicidal posts. It is relying on users to reach out. In the past, Facebook would contact the Lifeline with the name, e-mail address, and city of anyone who had been reported as potentially suicidal, but with this new system, the communication goes only to the person in distress.

To learn more visit the Facebook Safety page and a recent article in USAToday that does a great job of explaining how it works.

This is a great example of how social media is providing new opportunities to support many public health initiatives such as suicide prevention. Facebook's program provides an innovative and new opportunity to identify and help people in crisis.

The Office of Suicide Prevention at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment provides funding to the Colorado call center for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you or someone you know is in crisis please call 1-800-273-8255 or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org for more information.

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