Facebook suicide prevention tools now live in India


The seemingly unrelated statements have a thread in common. If these are status updates on social networking sites, chances are the individuals posting them could be potentially suicidal, feel mental health experts.

It has been increasingly seen that a person who committed suicide, tried to convey something to virtual friends through status messages before taking the extreme step. A little alertness on part of the social media users, hence, can help save many lives.

At Facebook, an initiative has been taken in this direction for its 1.65-billion strong community. The social networking site launched the feature in India Tuesday, introducing updated tools and educational resources to help support people who may be struggling with self-injury or experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Developed in collaboration with mental health organisations, and with inputs from people who have had personal experience with self-injury and suicide, these tools will be in English and Hindi. Facebook has AASRA and the Live Love Laugh Foundation as its local partners in India.

If a post by someone makes you concerned about the well-being of the person, you can now reach out to them directly, and discreetly, on Facebook and also ‘report’ the post.

“We have teams working around the world, 24/7, who review reports that come in. They prioritise the most serious reports like self-injury and send help and resources to those in distress,” says Ankhi Das, Public Policy Director, Facebook – India, South & Central Asia.

While Facebook already had a feature since 2011 to report potentially suicidal content, the updated tools promise to provide critical resources for the person in need, and also for their concerned friends and family.

Until now, one had to seek out Facebook’s suicide prevention page and upload a screenshot or URL of the post. But now, this support will be built directly into the posts. “These updates bring the latest experience—the expanded options to reach out to a friend, contact a helpline, or see tips—to everyone around the world,” says Das.

The feature, which works on both desktop and mobile, was launched in the US in early 2015, and then rolled out in Australia, New Zealand and the UK later that year.

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