Facebook rolls out updated suicide prevention tools for all users

  • HT Correspondent, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 15, 2016 16:08 IST
A smartphone user shows the Facebook application on his phone in the central Bosnian town of Zenica. Facebook has updated its suicide prevention tools and is rolling them out to users worldwide. (Reuters File Photo)

Facebook has updated its suicide prevention tools, which were first made available in the US last year, and is rolling them out to users worldwide.

The tools, developed in collaboration with mental health organisations and inputs from people with personal experience of self-injury and suicide, will allow Facebook users flag posts from people at risk for suicide.

“Today, we are rolling them out around the world in collaboration with local partners and in all languages Facebook is available in,” Antigone Davis, the social networking site’s global head of safety, and researcher Jennifer Guadagno said in an announcement on Tuesday.

The move coincided with the foiling of a suicide bid by a 42-year-old engineer in Gurgaon after he posted pictures of his slit wrist, a recorded video announcing the act and text of a suicide note on Facebook.

Varun Malik, who works as quality lead in a leading IT firm, posted the message titled “End” with two pictures of his slit left wrist on his Facebook wall at 10am on Tuesday.

Soon after the posts were shared on Facebook, his friends sought help. Malik’s brother took him to a nearby hospital.

The new tools from Facebook – which has some 1.65 billion active monthly users - make the process of reporting a potential suicide faster and less complicated.

“Now, with the help of these new tools, if someone posts something on Facebook that makes you concerned about their well-being, you can reach out to them directly – and you also can also report the post to us. We have teams working around the world, 24/7, who review reports that come in. They prioritise the most serious reports like self-injury,” Facebook said in its post.

“And, as of today, the resources we send to the person who posted something concerning will include an expanded set of options. People can now choose to reach out to a friend, contact a helpline, or see tips.”

Users can report suicidal posts through a drop-down menu that offers several options. Numbers for suicide prevention groups can be anonymously shared or a message of support can be sent.

Facebook said if “someone is in crisis, it is important to call local emergency services right away”.

India’s suicide death rates are among the highest in the world. According to the leading journal The Lancet, a large proportion of adult suicide deaths occur between the ages of 15 years and 29 years, especially among women. The WHO estimates about 170,000 deaths by suicide occur in India every year.

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