It’s not unusual for people who are on the edge of life to post what could very well be their final message to their Facebook wall. Facebook has been well aware of this and are now making their tools for suicide prevention open to everyone.
The tools work by allowing people to flag post from Facebook friends that seem out of the usual. If you determine that a post makes one of your friends sound like they may be at risk for either self harm or suicide, Facebook will allow users to flag the friends post from a drop down menu and then Facebook will take over form there.
For example, once someone flags a post that flirts with suicide or self harming ideas, Facebook will give them a list of resources, including contact numbers for suicide prevention organizations that can be shared anonymously. Alternatively, you will also be able to send a message of support — which feels like the better option and is recommended to be done in conjunction with each other.
Facebook takes it a step further and will have the post reviewed by their global community operations team. They then would reach out the the person themselves with information that might be able to better help them during their time of contemplation.
This tool sounds cool in theory but it might lack in practice. There’s some people out there who are depressed but aren’t close to suicidal thoughts or tendencies. If their “darker than usual” post are constantly getting flagged for suicidal behavior, it could become a growing annoyance.
Thinking purely for people are are suicidal, the system seems very insensitive and seems like what you would expect form a company that understands technology better than they do people. Sometimes, a direct and open message from a true friend can be enough to help someone cope with their negative thoughts. People who are not close to the person may opt for just sending them information to suicide prevention hotlines. It’s just seems like a way for people to say they helped without actually being helpful.
Overall, it’s a step in the right direction when taking into consideration the need for increased suicide prevention and awareness.