Facebook's New Suicide Prevention Tools Finally Get It Right

Illustration for article titled Facebook's New Suicide Prevention Tools Finally Get It Right

Facebook doesn't exactly have the greatest track record when it comes to sensitivity, but its newest tool (built in collaboration with National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) is thankfully bucking that trend. Now, if you see a worrisome post from a friend and report it, Facebook will prompt them to get help on their next login—after a third party reviews it.

That last part is key, because while information on who to talk to and where to get help can be wildly helpful, there will always be those looking to abuse the system. But this way, any reports of troubling content will be checked out by Facebook's "teams working around the world, 24/7," which will hopefully keep trolls out. And, of course, the tools were designed with help from people who know what they're doing. According to Facebook:

Besides encouraging them to connect with a mental health expert at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, we now also give them the option of reaching out to a friend, and provide tips and advice on how they can work through these feelings. All of these resources were created in conjunction with our clinical and academic partners.


The rollout will be happening over the next few months, but it will presumably come in as an option in the drop-down "report" menu within posts themselves. And if this helps even one person, it'll be worth it. [Facebook via The Verge]

If you struggle with suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255.

Contact the author at ashley@gizmodo.com.

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I know everyone is trying to help, but hotlines have a big problem with trust for me.

I have spent a lot of time calling suicide hotlines, and I appreciate the work the volunteers are doing. However, I have a problem with the hotlines.

I was a frequent caller, so almost everyone who works at the hotlines I call know me. I know that this is not a situation most people who call will deal with. When I call there are two things that happen, either they try to get me off the phone, because they assume I am not truly suicidal, or they try to send me to the hospital. I understand that their time is limited, but, when I am calling, I am in crisis, and I am looking for some help, not an automatic trip to the hospital.

Often times when I call they recognize me, so they know my history, so they often don't take me seriously. Hence, I have been rushed off the phone many times.

Worse than rushing me off is sending EMS to me without my consent. This has happened several times. The one that sticks out the most is the time I called, and got off the phone because I felt better. I then went to sleep. I was woken up by a loud knock on my door. I crawl out the bed, opened the door, and was greeted by the cops. They realized I was sleeping and in no danger, but they still took me to the hospital. They told me they had to because someone called that I was suicidal and a danger to myself.

Eventually, whenever I called I was terrified that they would send the cops. Often I would call and hang up, and then spend the night paranoid that every siren meant the cops were coming for me.