Being on the forefront of internet culture, the often uncomfortable issue of suicide prevention has been an unavoidable one for Facebook. Thankfully, it’s an issue that they have handled with aplomb thus far, offering users tools and resources to guide them out of their dark times, if they’re willing to use them. Not everybody who feels suicidal or depressed is willing to reach out for help directly, though. Likewise, not everybody who knows somebody who’s going through a hard time in their life is equipped to help support their ailing friends. This is why Facebook created a tool to report posts from friends that are worrying, at which point Facebook staff will reach out to the person in question and offer them tools, resources and literature that can help. Until now, however, this tool has only been available in certain markets. As of Tuesday, the reporting tool has gone live across all of Facebook’s global markets.
While the internet, by its very nature, can only offer a certain degree of help to those who are depressed or may be suicidal, Facebook offers as much help as they can to users who are flagged by friends for outreach. When a user flags a post that worries them, Facebook will allow them to contact the person directly to reach out, or contact a mutual friend to help. A suggested message is given, but users can also fill in their own words to send to their friend in need. A user whose post is flagged, the next time they log into Facebook, will also receive a message with a list of suicide prevention resources, along with information and tools that could help them out.
Of course, since it’s only a message on the internet, a user could just as easily skip the helpful message upon logging in or just log off entirely at that point, but the message could be helpful for those who genuinely want to find help, but don’t know where to look or may not have it in them to seek help for one reason or another. While suicide prevention is one of the most complex and important cultural issues facing humanity today and it can be difficult to make any impact at all over an internet connection, Facebook’s tools and the fact that they’re rolling out globally are a step in the right direction.