Facebook introduces suicide prevention tools

The company is using its live video platform to add features that enable users to alert staff if people streaming might harm themselves. It’s a move to address a growing epidemic.

Facebook is working to improve its suicide prevention outreach in its live video program.

The company said it will improve reporting tools if viewers think someone who is streaming on Facebook Live might harm themselves.

The move comes in the wake of what USA Today called “an alarming phenomenon” of people taking their own lives while broadcasting on the service.

Facebook product manager Vanessa Callison-Burch, researcher Jennifer Guadagno and the company’s headof global safety, Antigone Davis, wrote in a company blog post:

There is one death by suicide in the world every 40 seconds, and suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15-29 year olds. Experts say that one of the best ways to prevent suicide is for those in distress to hear from people who care about them.

Facebook is in a unique position — through friendships on the site — to help connect a person in distress with people who can support them. It’s part of our ongoing effort to help build a safe community on and off Facebook.

The real-time suicide prevention tools will include a reporting function that calls for an escalated response from Facebook, which will enable the company’s team to contact emergency services to assist the user.

The person streaming will see a set of tools on their screen that can connect them to people who can help, too.

Facebook has also partnered with the Crisis Text Line, the National Eating Disorder Association and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to offer users live chat assistance.

The tools are in addition to the moves Facebook has made to prevent suicide and self-harm attempts:

Already on Facebook if someone posts something that makes you concerned about their well-being, you can reach out to them directly or report the post to us. We have teams working around the world, 24/7, who review reports that come in and prioritize the most serious reports like suicide. We provide people who have expressed suicidal thoughts with a number of support options. For example, we prompt people to reach out to a friend and even offer pre-populated text to make it easier for people to start a conversation. We also suggest contacting a help line and offer other tips and resources for people to help themselves in that moment.

What do you think about the new feature, Ragan readers?

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