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Facebook's Suicide Prevention Gone Wrong
By: Jessica Cherok
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Is Facebook’s suicide prevention tool really helpful? According to at least one man, no.

Tusch claims that in an effort to test whether or not the suicide prevention tool worked, he posted a fake threat about killing himself on Facebook. One of his Facebook friends saw the post and flagged it for a potential suicide. From there, Tusch says he was “denied any humane care.”

Once a post is flagged as being potentially suicidal, Facebook may contact the local authorities to perform a wellness check on the individual. In Tusch’s case, Facebook contacted the police, who then showed up at his house and arrested him. He was then placed in psychiatric care for three days.

Tusch claims that his experience proves Facebook shouldn’t be involved in suicide prevention like this. He believes prevention should be left up to the individual’s family and friends. Otherwise, anyone could flag a post — perhaps out of malice — to have the poster arrested or otherwise detained.

He’s not the only one who feels that way. Consumer Watchdog has also expressed concerns about Facebook’s method of prevention. In a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the group asked that Facebook “suspend the suicide prevention program until it is fully protective of all the rights of all individuals and contains all the safeguards against abuse.”

No word yet on what, if any, changes may be made to the system.


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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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