Facebook launches new suicide prevention tools


Facebook deploys artificial intelligence-enabled tools to prevent suicide…

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. Experts say that one of the best ways to prevent suicide is for those in distress to hear from people who care about them.

Facebook is in a unique position — through friendships on the site — to help connect a person in distress with people who can support them.

“It’s part of our ongoing effort to help build a safe community on and off Facebook,” the social media giant said in a statement where it announced new tools to prevent suicide.

The new tools are:

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

Already on Facebook if someone posts something that makes a user to be concerned about their well-being, they can be reached out to directly or the post can be reported to Facebook.

Facebook said: “We have teams working around the world, 24/7, who review reports that come in and prioritize the most serious reports like suicide. We provide people who have expressed suicidal thoughts with a number of support options. For example, we prompt people to reach out to a friend and even offer pre-populated text to make it easier for people to start a conversation. We also suggest contacting a help line and offer other tips and resources for people to help themselves in that moment.”

It is worthy to note that suicide prevention tools have been available on Facebook for more than 10 years and were developed in collaboration with mental health organizations such as Save.org, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Forefront and Crisis Text Line, and with input from people who have personal experience thinking about or attempting suicide.

“In 2016 we expanded the availability of the latest tools globally — with the help of over 70 partners around the world — and improved how they work based on new technology and feedback from the community,” Facebook stated.


About Author

Paul is a freelance journalist, medical researcher and extensively published author. He holds a MSc degree in cell biology and genetics, and is a PhD candidate of the University of Ibadan.

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