Friday, December 16, 2011

Suicide Prevention Comes to Facebook: A Life-Saving Option With A Dark Side

Forbes - Facebook now offers a potentially life-saving way for people to report suicidal posts. Working with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Suicide Prevention Lifelinethey’ve put a procedure in place to help friends help friends in trouble. While some will still tragically fall through the cracks, and surely there will be many unnecessary reports, I believe this will save lives. But the need for Facebook to present us with this option — and it is a big need, last year 36,000 Americans died at their own hand — is a sad, dark commentary on the alienation we now take for granted.

My experience trying out the procedure, and enlisting friends to report one of my status posts (without the final step of actually contacting a crisis counselor — not a good idea to waste their time) was that the whole thing is useful but kludgy.

When you make a report you start with the “Report story or spam” option. After you continue you select “violence or harmful behavior” to activate a drop-down list. Then you can choose as an option, “suicidal content.” Finally you are asked if you want the report to go to the poster or to a crisis hotline.              More