Facebook is announcing a new service to help prevent suicides in the U.S. and Canada. The new service enables Facebook users to report a suicidal comment they see posted by a friend to Facebook using either a new "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 1-800-273-TALK 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,” said 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.”
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK or is a toll-free suicide prevention hotline network comprised of 152 local crisis centers. The Lifeline is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It provides free and confidential crisis counseling to anyone in need 24/7 and has answered over 3 million calls since its launch in 2005.
One murder, two suicides
“Facebook and the Lifeline are to be commended for addressing one of this nation’s most tragic public health problems,” said Surgeon General, Regina M. Benjamin, MD, MBA, who serves with Sullivan on the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. “Nearly 100 Americans die by suicide every day – 36,035 lives every year. For every person who is murdered, two die by suicide.
"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," Benjamin said.
Crisis center workers from two centers in the Lifeline network, the Boys Town National Hotline and Goodwill of the Finger Lakes’ 2-1-1/LIFE LINE, 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,” said John Draper, Ph.D., the Lifeline’s project director and MHA-NYC’ Vice President of 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.”