Facebook plans to help reduce suicide


Facebook to collaborate with mental health organisations to prevent suicide

In the first partnership of its kind, the world’s largest social networking website Facebook is to team-up with mental health groups to better support those considering suicide. 

Along with The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a new service, piloting in America, will harness the power of social networking and crisis support to help prevent suicides across the USA and Canada. 

The service will enable Facebook users to report a suicidal comment posted by a friend via a Report Suicidal Content link. The person posting the comment will then receive an email from the networking site asking them to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or encourage them to click a link to begin a confidential chat session with a crisis worker. 

The Lifeline is funded by SAMHSA, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mental Health Association of New York City, and provides free and confidential counselling to anyone 24/7, receiving over three million calls since it first launched in 2005. 

“We're proud to expand our partnership with Lifeline, and to provide those in crisis with even more options to seek help,” Facebook’s Chief Security Officer, Joe Sullivan, told reporters.

 “The Lifeline’s commitment to suicide prevention has enabled people on Facebook to get fast, meaningful help when they need it most, and we look forward to continuing our work with them to help save lives.”

According to SAMHSA, nearly 100 Americans die by suicide every day, accumulating to 36,035 lives per year. 

Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin, who serves on the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention told SAMHSA: “These deaths are even more tragic because they are preventable. 

“We have effective treatments to help suicidal individuals regain hope and a desire to live and we know how powerful personal connections and support can be. We as a nation must do everything we can to reach out to those at risk and provide them the help and hope needed to survive and return to productive lives.”

With over 800 million online users, Facebook’s suicide prevention programme follows an increase in the number of suicides announced on social networking sites prior to the act itself. In 2010 it also launched its anti-bullying campaign, providing users with online support groups. 

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