Recently, I came across a friend on Facebook that was posting their personal thoughts about their lives. Unfortunately, these negative thoughts started leading toward committing suicide. I didn’t think I could help other than offering my shoulder to “cry on”. But if you are not close to your online friends other than interacting with them via social platforms, how could you help them? Why would they even talk to you or listen to you?
I came across a valuable news article in the Epoch Times newspaper. Facebook will offer its users online resources and support to help suicidal individuals. This service was made of a new collaboration between Facebook and Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention. Its an organization based in the University of Washington’s School of Social Work. Those who see suicidal posts can now report them to Facebook. Facebook will then tell you how you can help.
The Inner Workings of the System
When you see a post that suggests its author might consider suicide, you can click on a dropdown menu and report the post to Facebook. You’ll see a series of responses (those familiar with blocking people know it well) that asks you what you want to do. You can select the following options after selecting the appropriate topic:
• Send A Message to Author
• Contact Another Facebook Friend for Support
• Or Connect with a trained professional at a suicide helpline for guidance
Facebook reviews the reported post and offers support pop-up screens that automatically launches when the author logs back into the website. The screens ask them if they might want to receive help if they are still in distress. Coincidently, the responses link to a number of positive options such as videos from Now Matters Now. This program was started by Forefront research scientist Ursula Whiteside and it provides strategies and real-life accounts from real people who struggled with suicidal thoughts. It not only aims at suicidal people but to also educate and provide alternatives or guides for concerned friends or family members.
This is a step in the right direction for family and friends witnessing other family and friends on the edge and helping to cope with mental illness or disturbing life situations. No more do you have to stay quiet. Please call the suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for immediate intervention.
Source: “Facebook Adds Lifelines to Prevent Suicide” by Deborah Bach www.theepochtimes.com , March 13-19 2015.