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Research Review

Facebook Provides First-of-a-Kind Service to Help Prevent Suicides

Facebook is announcing a new service that harnesses the power of social networking and crisis support to help prevent suicides across the United States and Canada. The new service enables Facebook users to report a suicidal comment they see posted by a friend to Facebook using either the Report Suicidal Content link or the report links found throughout the site. The person who posted the suicidal comment will then immediately receive an e-mail from Facebook encouraging them to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or to click on a link to begin a confidential chat session with a crisis worker.

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

Crisis center workers from two centers in the Lifeline network, the Boys Town National Hotline and Goodwill of the Finger Lakes, will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to respond to Facebook users opting to use the chat. The Lifeline currently responds to dozens of people each day who have expressed suicidal thoughts on Facebook.

“We have been partnering with Facebook since 2006 to assist at-risk users and are thrilled to launch this new service,” says John Draper, PhD, the Lifeline’s project director and Mental Health Association of New York City’s vice president of crisis and behavioral health technology. “Although the Lifeline on average handles 70,000 calls per month, we have heard from our Facebook fans and others that there are many people in crisis who don’t feel comfortable picking up the phone. This new service provides a way for them to get the help they need in the way they want it.”

— Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration