Facebook has launched a new feature, which is available on both desktop and mobile, to enable users to report when a friend appears to be in distress and hopefully prevent suicides. Currently around 50% of Facebook users in the United States can access this feature, which will soon be rolled out across the country, a Facebook spokesperson told Huffington Post.
Much-needed improvement from Facebook
The social network has partnered with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Now Matters Now, Save.org, Forefront, and Innovations in Suicide Prevention, a nonprofit operating out of the University of Washington’s School of Social Work, to present users with more options when they see a friend in an alarming situation.
Although the Menlo Park-based company has had the option to report suicidal content since 2011, for the first time, support will be given directly in posts. Until now, users were required to land on Facebook’s suicide prevention page and upload a screenshot or URL of the post.
The social networking site will offer videos that use true stories of people who have gone through such thoughts before. Facebook will also integrate a section that will talk about simple relaxation techniques like baking, drawing, going for a walk or visiting a library. The site will also help users find a self-care expert.
How the new feature works
If a user sees a friend posting something that could be concerning, then he or she can click the small arrow at the top right of the post and press the “Report Post.” Further, the user will have an option to contact the friend who made the concerning comment, contact another friend for support or contact a suicide helpline, according to the University of Washington.
After the user has done their part, Facebook will look at the post to decide whether or not it qualifies as distress, and then it will make contact with the person who posted it. After this, the user will be greeted with a few pop-ups when he or she logs in the next time, conveying a message that one of their friends told Facebook about their condition. The pop-ups will be visible only to the user, who can then select from the given options.
When the user agrees on any one option suggested by Facebook, they will be able to call a friend, send a message to the friend or contact a suicide helpline. Additionally, they can opt for calling or messaging a suicide prevention expert.