Facebook extends support for users considering suicide

A few months ago Twitter was criticised for teaming up with suicide prevention charity Samaritans to automatically monitor for key words and phrases that could indicate that someone was struggling to cope with life.

Despite the privacy concerns that surrounded Samaritans Radar, Facebook has decided that it is going to launch a similar venture for Compassion Research Day in a bid to prevent suicides.

Working with mental health organisations including mental health organisations Forefront, Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Save.org, Facebook aims to provide greater help and support for anyone considering suicide or self-harm.

Unlike Twitter's tool, Facebook is not automatically monitoring content that is posted on the social network. Instead, users are invited to get in touch if they notice troubling content from any of their contacts, and Facebook will then reach out with the offer of help, support and tips.

Introducing the feature, Facebook said: "For those who may need help we have significantly expanded the support and resources that are available to them the next time they log on to Facebook after we review a report of something they’ve posted.

"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."

Of course, stumbling across a post that indicates suicidal thoughts can be troubling for the reader as well.

With this in mind, Facebook is providing additional tools for anyone who reports such content. Facebook has teams working round the clock to talk to people on both sides of the suicidal thoughts story.

The services are rolling out in the US over the next couple of months, and there are plans to extend the program globally.