The US suicide rate has spiked at a 30-year high; this is troubling. This increase was in every age group–except older adults–meaning youth mental health should be under the spotlight right now. Something needs to be done to lower young adult and teenage suicidal thoughts in order to combat the rate of suicide. Facebook has taken a step towards that. The New York Times recently reported on Facebook’s new tool to help combat young adult and teenage suicidal thoughts.
How does this tool help youth & teenage suicidal thoughts?
The new suicide prevention tool on Facebook begins with a drop-down menu that gives you the ability to report if you think a post may be a sign of suicidal intentions. After this, you’re give some options to continue: either send a direct Facebook message to the friend you think may be suicidal or message a different friend to help you do it. Facebook even provides suggested examples to send in case you don’t know how to go about it. Also, after it’s flagged, someone part of Facebook’s global community operations team–which runs 24/7–assesses the post.
What happens if the operations team feels the post is a call for help?
If they get the vibe that this could potentially be a real suicidal call for help, the person who may be suicidal receives a list of options next time they get on Facebook. The list includes various tips and resources they can reach out to if they’re contemplating suicide. It urges them to seek help and reach out to those they can trust and rely on.
More needs to be done through social media to help combat this issue
Since the increase in suicides were majorly young people, social media should be one of the platforms that we focus on offering help. Even if these tools only help a few people–it’s completely worth it. Oftentimes, these youth committing suicide believe this is their only option, but these tools help them realize they do have options and those they can reach out to for help in such a miserable time. Facebook created this tool in the hope that it will make other social media platforms create tools to help combat youth and teenage suicidal thoughts.