Facebook on Tuesday introduced an updated tool in India to provide support to potentially suicidal users. The feature – available in both English and Hindi – was developed with inputs from those who have had experience with self-injury and suicide attempts. Suicide helpline providers and NGOs AASRA and actor Deepika Padukone’s Live Love Laugh Foundation were the social media giant’s local partners.
Users concerned about someone’s Facebook status message that seemingly indicates suicidal tendencies can ‘report’ the post anonymously. “We have teams working around the world, 24/7, who review reports that come in. They prioritise the most serious reports like self-injury and send help and resources to those in distress,” said Ankhi Das, the public policy director of Facebook India, South and Central Asia, The Indian Express reported.
So far, to use the feature on Facebook, users have had to upload a screenshot or URL of the post on its suicide prevention page. With the updated tool, this feature, which works on both desktop and mobile, will be built directly into the posts. It was launched in the United States early in 2015 and subsequently in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom later that year.
Once a post is flagged, the tool asks the individual concerned if they need help and lets them know that “Someone who saw your post thinks you might be going through a difficult time. If you want support, we’d like to help”. They are then given the options to message or call a person they trust, seek self-help advice from resources and ask for tips on how to deal with their problems, or contact a helpline to share their thoughts. The option to skip the entire process and return to the newsfeed is also available.
Mental health experts believe those dealing with self-injury or suicidal thoughts often reach out for help through status updates on social networking sites before taking the final step. With this new feature Facebook aim to help save lives with a little alertness from its 1.65-billion strong community.