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Facebook unveils suicide alert function with Samaritans

by Sarah Griffiths on 8 March 2011, 13:25

Tags: Facebook

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On high alert

Facebook has teamed up with the Samaritans to roll out a function allowing Facebook users to alert the police to any friends they think might be considering suicide.

According to The Guardian, the launch of the new alert system follows a number of cases where users reportedly posted messages on the site before attempting suicide. The situation was apparently thrown into sharp relief after Simone Back told her Facebook friends she had taken an overdose, but no-one alerted the authorities until the following day.

A help page will now reportedly be made available to the site's 30m UK users who can click on a link allowing them to post reports of people they fear might commit suicide. Facebook will then alert the police as well as passing alerts on to the Samaritans, a charity spokesman told the newspaper.

The Samaritans will also have an increased presence on the social network as concerned Facebookers will reportedly be directed to contact details for the charity in the UK and Ireland as well as parallel charities in the US and Norway, which have already been working with the website.

The Samaritans said the system was already being tested when Back posted her farewell Facebook message late on Christmas day, reportedly writing: "Took all my pills, be dead soon, bye bye everyone."

Apparently her ‘friends' taunted her and discussed the message instead of trying to help.

The charity is also reportedly launching an awareness campaign on Facebook to help people spot worrying signs and support friends.

Catherine Johnstone, CEO of The Samaritans, reportedly said: "Through the popularity of Facebook, we are harnessing the power of friendship so people can get help. As a friend you are better placed to know whether someone close to you is struggling to cope or even feeling suicidal. We want to remind people that if a friend says that life isn't worth living, they should always be taken seriously. Facebook is a part of daily life for so many of us and we must make sure that people online have support when they need it."

Facebook's director of policy for Europe, Richard Allan, said The Samaritans "will help to make our robust reporting system even more effective, as friends are encouraged to look out for one another on Facebook as they do in the real world."

HEXUS Forums :: 7 Comments

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Why stop there.

Why not have a call police button for when you think your friend is being attacked.
Why not have a call fire department button incase your friend is on fire.
Why not have a call ambulance service button incase your friend is dying….

Or people could use a thing called a phone and dial directly to an emergency service - or are kids so dumb now that don't know this number.
this button would make such awesome facebook raping.

tbh thinking about it, why is there a option to change in the menu if your male or female?

other than fraping i cant think of anything
But those people who truly want to die tend to take steps to avoid discovery.. which includes not posting on FB. Which leaves the (much larger) group of self-harmers who want to be discovered and who will be discovered whether or not they post on FB. The ones who are seeking attention and are simply wasting considerable time and money (yes that's right, that child can't have this new chemotherapy because you thought it would be a good idea to take a dozen paracetamol last night because you split up with your boyfriend). It's the frequent attenders who really get to me.
Good I'm not on FB… Attention seekers and losers hiding themselves behind pretty looking avatar should deffo need this extra option!

What I really want from FB is the ability to completely delete a profile - not just freezing it keeping all the data available for admins etc.
Besides who cares if some low-life idiot decides to kill himself ? Stop pretending to be special and misunderstood and get a life. There's over 3 billion people living on less than $2 a day and they don't commit mass suicides.