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This article was published on September 18, 2013

Facebook outlines suicide prevention resources as it plans PSA campaign in US, Canada, and the UK

Facebook outlines suicide prevention resources as it plans PSA campaign in US, Canada, and the UK

Facebook wants you to know that people care about you. That’s the message coming from the social networking company’s Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan, who penned a post today asking those who may be thinking about suicide to know that that there are resources to seek out help.

Seeking out ways to better protect its 1.15 billion users is more than a duty for Facebook — it has an obligation to protect its users, at least virtually-speaking. As the world’s largest social network, it’s a community of users who interact with each other across all facets of life, whether it’s for school, work, family, professional, or personal needs. But, with the rise of cyber bullying and other forms of digital harassment, the company must constantly be vigilant and work to help prevent suicide.

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And it’s not as if Facebook doesn’t have the necessary tools to help affected users. Sullivan reminds us in his post that there are three ways friends can access resources:

  • Clicking “Report” on the upper-right corner of a post: Facebook lets users tap on the “Report” button, but rather than send a note to the company, there’s an option to deliver a crafted message to their friend letting them know of their concern.
  • Search for “Suicide” in the search bar. Leveraging Graph Search, users can query “suicide” and be shown the Facebook help: Suicide page. Although when we ran a search, it wasn’t the first listing, instead it was for “Suicide Girls”. It might be better to have that listing at the top.
  • Going to Facebook’s Help Center and typing “suicide”: Alternatively, if you don’t want to do the step involving Graph Search, you can go straight to the help section and look up advice on how to help those contemplating suicide.

And that’s just from the desktop. On its mobile apps, the company gives users the ability to quickly and easily report content that may indicate someone could be thinking about hurting him or herself. Facebook’s suicide prevention model is highlighted in this infographic the company produced.

The timing of this post comes a month after the suicide of British teenager Hannah Smith, whose death was blamed on bullying she received on by anonymous users. And it’s not just a phenomenon that’s isolated to one social network, but rather every form of social media out there today, including Formspring, Facebook, Twitter, and others.

As part of its efforts to help prevent suicides from happening, Facebook has formed partnerships with 33 related organizations globally and is planning on running a PSA in the UK, Canada, and the US targeting young adults to try and help them understand that things will get better and that there’s always someone willing to listen to them.

For more information or to get help, you can also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

See related: Facebook joins domestic violence prevention group in publishing guide to help protect against abuse

Photo credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

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