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Facebook Updates Suicide Prevention Feature
By: Jennifer Graber
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Anyone who suffers from mental health problems can attest to the fact that the journey is long. The road is winding. This is true for both the sufferers, and his or her loved ones. For a long time, conversations regarding mental health have been non-existent. The lack of communication and openness creates a void in which one is left to feel alone. But times — they are a’ changing. And let us be thankful for that.
 
Honest conversations are beginning to take place. Others are beginning to better understand the impact of mental health problems because we are taking the time to educate ourselves. It is becoming easier to open up. Of course, all of the world’s mental health problems are not being solved in an instant. However, we are finally getting more tools to help.
 
It is obvious that the masses are out there in the digital world, and on social media. So what do you do when that is the case? Well, you take it to the masses. And that is just what Facebook has done. The social site has recently updated one of its tools geared toward preventing suicide.
 
Users have been able to report concerning Facebook posts for quite some time. However, in the past, users have been required to provide a screenshot or link to the concerning post via a prevention site. This feature was useful but could add precious minutes in a crucial process. This way of utilizing the feature could prove to be problematic to someone who may not have the most up-to-date technology.
 
Facebook has now made important changes to its suicide prevention feature to make it better. The update allows users to directly “flag content on the desktop and mobile version on the social site that they find concerning.” This means that users can click directly on the post, and report it right then and there.
 
Once a user reports a post he or she will have the option to contact the friend who wrote the post, another friend for support, or a suicide hotline. Facebook will then review the reported post to determine if it indicates distress or a suicide threat. If the post is determined to indicate such a situation a special message will pop up the next time the user logs in.
 
The user will see an introduction message that indicates one of their posts have been reported as concerning, and reassures that this information is being kept private. The user will then have the option to either see the post in question or continue. The next message provides options for seeking support, or skipping this portion of the process. Facebook will even offer additional resources for the user in crisis. The user can be connected to professional help, call a friend, view testimonials, see self-care tips, and more.
 
The feature is available to about half of Facebook users, and will be debuted to the rest of its users in the coming months. The social site has staff working on, and for, this feature 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
 
I applaud Facebook for this update. Hopefully other sites will follow suit.
 
If you, or someone you know, is in need of help, please reach out. You are not alone. You can visit the following organizations, who partnered with Facebook, for more information: Forefront, Now Matters Now, Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and Save.org.


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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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