Facebook is rolling out a new tool that will hopefully help to combat suicide amongst its users. While Facebook has had an interesting track record when it comes to dealing with sensitive issues, the company has noted that they will be rolling out a tool that was created in coalition with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The company will be rolling out an option that will give users the ability to flag a post or flag a person who might be considering suicide. While the tool itself cannot completely stop suicide, it definitely can help fight what has become a disturbing trend.
This new feature will be rolled into the post reporting system that already exists on the social network. Users will be able to click on the small arrow that exists at the top-right of every post – and when they click on “Report Post,” an option will appear which will direct the user to answer a couple basic questions. However, upon doing so, the user who shared the post that was received the reporting, will then be shown a message – as well as the ability to see what post they’ve had reported.
The initial message will read, “Hi [user], a friend thinks you might be going through something difficult and asked us to look at your recent post.” It then notes that only you are getting this notification and that it in no way reflects on the post itself that has been shared. The feature will then ask what the user would like to do next. They have the option to “talk to someone,” will consist of reaching out to a friend – or reaching out to a helpline – or they will have the option to “get tips and support” that will reflect some ideas and tips for others to utilize to get through difficult times.
The reporting system definitely isn’t perfect, but it’s a very nice step in the right direction for a company that previously did nothing to advocate on behalf of those who have contemplated suicide. At the end of the day, this is a feature that isn’t as much about how many clicks it gets, but rather how effective it is at actually identifying individuals who might be considering suicide – and getting them help.