Facebook Introduces New Suicide Prevention Tool During Its Annual Compassion Research Day

Facebook announces that it will be implementing new suicide prevention tools during a speech given at its fifth-annual Compassion Research Day this week. The Facebook team behind the enhancements has spent the past year working alongside mental health organizations Forefront, Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Save.org, and others to design a set of features that provides professional help to people that post concerning Facebook statuses, and provides tools for concerned friends to more accurately report the problem and get the right people engaged.


The first new feature Facebook is rolling out is a new log-in screen for users who have had one of their posts reported as containing concerning language. When these user logs in, they are presented with options which include immediately being connected with a trained mental health professional from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, getting connected with online support groups and tools, or reviewing tips for how to cope with suicidal feelings.


Facebook is also rolling out enhancements that will help friends flag suicidal posts for more immediate attention. Currently, when a user flags a Facebook post for review, the options they are presented are focused on identifying spam, bullying, and inappropriate content. Now, users will have the ability to mark a post as potentially suicidal. This will trigger a separate review process where a team of trained Facebook employees working 24/7 will evaluate the nature of the post and coordinate the appropriate response. Friends who flag a post as concerning are also getting a new set of tools, including the ability to call or message the Friend in question.

Facebook launched its Compassion Research Day five years ago, with the goal of partnering with academia to examine unchecked bullying and other negative social interactions on the site, and implement tools to fight back. Since its launch, Facebook has funded researchers from Yale, Stanford, Berkley, and others as they use Facebook’s datasets to extend and quantify scientific understanding in previously “soft” research areas, such as empathy and emotion.

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