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New Facebook tools allow you to help someone who might be at risk of suicide

The new features were designed with the help of Samaritans Ireland ahead of World Suicide Day this Saturday.

2.1 million Irish people are active users on Facebook.
2.1 million Irish people are active users on Facebook.
Image: Shutterstock/Rawpixel.com

THE SOCIAL MEDIA site Facebook has added new features to its suicide prevention tool, which will aim to increase the resources and support to those on the site who are at risk of suicide.

The new features include a prompt that is sent to those at risk encouraging them to talk to a friend, and offers support and resources to the person who flags a troubling post.

A list of the total suicide prevention features include:

  • Facebook asks people to flag any troubling content by reporting the post. Teams review the flagged posts, prioritise them and send support and resources to those suspected of being in distress. These services operate 24/7
  • There is also an option to contact the local emergency services immediately, if someone thinks a friend is in an immediate threat of suicide
  • After posting something of concern, support and resources are prompted the next time a person at risk logs into Facebook. They’re encouraged to speak with a friend, contact a helpline, or read their tips on how to support themselves through relaxation

SSI-Intro An example of the message someone will receive after their post is flagged. Source: Facebook

  • Facebook will also encourage reaching out to a friend, provide tips on how they can work through these feelings, and encourage contacting a Samaritans officer
  • Once someone flags a post as troubling, support options appear for them also, and they’re encouraged to call or message a friend or a trained volunteer for support.

The features were developed in conjunction with the suicide prevention charity Samaritans Ireland ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day this Saturday, to help make social media sites safer for people struggling to cope.

Deirdre Toner, executive director of Samaritans Ireland said that people use Facebook to ”communicate their feelings when life is tough and they’re feeling overwhelmed”.

She added:

Research shows that social media feeds can be effective indicators of what happens in real life, so those who threaten suicide online can often go on to make an attempt at taking their own life, therefore messages that cause concern should not be ignored.

Facebook and other social media sites have drawn criticism before for allowing bullying and hate speech on their site without repercussion. They have pages on their sites with aim to address both of these issues.

If you need to talk, contact

  • Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org
  • National Suicide Helpline 1800 247 247 – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)
  • Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email mary@pieta.ie – (suicide, self-harm)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

Read: ‘Think of all those voices desperate for help’: Women’s Aid helpline receives 41 calls a day

Read: There’ll be a million over-65s in Ireland by 2031 – experts say we need a plan

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