Facebook expands suicide prevention efforts

Amy Scott Feb 26, 2015
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Facebook expands suicide prevention efforts

Amy Scott Feb 26, 2015
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Over the next few months, Facebook users will have access to some new tools to help prevent suicide among their friends. Friends can already report suicidal content when they see it online. Now both the person who posts that content — and the friend who reports it — will be directed to mental health resources.

“What this does is it allows people to connect in a large way and provide support through a free platform,” says Stephen Miller, operations manager at Forefront, a nonprofit suicide prevention group in Seattle that helped develop the new tools.

Five years ago Miller lost a friend to suicide, after that friend posted troubling comments on Facebook.

“I didn’t know what to do,” says Miller.

Some privacy advocates are worried about the potential unintended consequences of allowing people to flag their friends.  

“What happens to that record of that tag of someone who’s suicidal?” says Jamie Court with Consumer Watchdog. “Can they ever erase it from their Facebook history, which is the property of Facebook?”

The reporting process is “entirely confidential,” says Rob Boyle, a product manager at Facebook. Posters won’t know who flagged their content, and what they choose to do remains private.

“We take privacy and confidentiality very seriously,” he says, “especially around this product and these experiences.”

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.  

Need some Econ 101?

Our new Marketplace Crash Course is here to help. Sign-up for free, learn at your own pace.