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How Facebook aims to Build a Safer Community With New Suicide Prevention Tools

How Facebook aims to Build a Safer Community With New Suicide Prevention Tools
Source: BrightVibes

Facebook has launched new tools to help people who may be thinking of suicide, and for friends and family who want to help. A great example of using #techforgood

“These tools are an example of how we can help keep each other safe.” – Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg says that Facebook has put in place new tools to help people who may be thinking of suicide, and for their friends and family who want to help. On his personal Facebook page yesterday he said, "I wrote a letter on building global community a couple weeks ago, and one of the pillars of community I discussed was keeping people safe. These tools are an example of how we can help keep each other safe."

Facebook artificial intelligence to help in suicide prevention With the surge in instances of people using Facebook Live to stream suicides, the social media giant is expanding the portfolio of its suicide prevention tools that use artificial intelligence (AI) and pattern recognition to help troubled users. Source: Youtube Zee News

Making changes to help do more

Zuckerberg went on to say, ‘When someone is thinking of suicide or hurting themselves, we already have tools that let friends reach out directly or report a post to us so we can help. But with billions of posts, comments and messages every day, we’re limited by what people actually report to us. As a result, there have been terribly tragic events – including suicides, some live streamed – that might have been prevented if someone had realised what was happening earlier.’

Based on feedback from experts, Facebook has redesigned their suicide prevention tools and integrated them into Live video. People can now reach out to someone directly or report the stream, and the person streaming can contact a friend or a helpline. Now people will have the ability to chat directly with someone from organisations like Crisis Text Line, Lifeline, and the National Eating Disorder Association.

Finally, Facebook is testing ways to use artificial intelligence to find patterns in posts that have been reported for suicide and make it easier to identify similar posts – even if a friend hasn’t reported it. Teams will review these posts and reach out to help if it’s appropriate. 

‘Keeping our community safe is an important part of our mission, and an important part of how we’ll measure our progress going forward. There’s a lot more to do here and I’m looking forward to working with all of you to do it.’ Said Zuckerberg.

There is one death by suicide in the world every 40 seconds, and suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15-29 year olds.
Facebook is in a unique position to help There is one death by suicide in the world every 40 seconds, and suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15-29 year olds. Source: Facebook Newsroom

What changes have been made

Yesterday Facebook’s Newsroom reported, ‘We’re updating the tools and resources we offer to people who may be thinking of suicide, as well as the support we offer to their concerned friends and family members:

  • Integrated suicide prevention tools to help people in real time on Facebook Live
  • Live chat support from crisis support organisations through Messenger
  • Streamlined reporting for suicide, assisted by artificial intelligence

The report, by Facebook’s Vanessa Callison-Burch (Product Manager), Jennifer Guadagni (Researcher), and Antigone Davis (Head of Global Safety), continued:

  • Our suicide prevention tools for Facebook posts will now be integrated into Facebook Live. People watching a live video have the option to reach out to the person directly and to report the video to us. We will also provide resources to the person reporting the live video to assist them in helping their friend.
  • The person sharing a live video will see a set of resources on their screen. They can choose to reach out to a friend, contact a help line or see tips. If you or someone you know is in crisis, it is important to call local emergency services right away. You can also visit our Help Center for information about how to support yourself or a friend.

To see the full contents of the Facebook Newsroom announcement, click HERE

Preventing suicide is complicated, but experts say one of the best ways to help is if someone who is in distress hears from people who care about them.
Supporting Someone on Facebook Live Preventing suicide is complicated, but experts say one of the best ways to help is if someone who is in distress hears from people who care about them. Source: Facebook Newsroom

Bus driver spots student seconds from committing suicide and stops her with one question Darnell Barton, a bus driver in Buffalo, NY, had just picked up passengers along his route when he noticed a young woman standing on the WRONG side of the guard rail of the bridge his bus was passing over. What he did next most probably saved her life. He stopped his bus, called the emergency services, and asked her: ‘Hey miss, why don’t we come back on this side of the rail for me?’ He then waited with her until they arrived. Source: UsNews
Make an Impact

Suicide can be prevented: click to learn how you can do your part to help.

Suicide is a complex public health issue and requires coordination and cooperation among healthcare providers, individuals and family members, treatment services and other critical stakeholders. Click to learn more about a some current suicide prevention measures SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education) are taking to reduce the number of suicides and how you can do your part to help.