Future Tense

Facebook’s Revamped Safety Measures Aim to Prevent Suicides

Facebook wants to do more to help people at risk of harming themselves.

Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook revamped its safety measures this week, making its “Safety Center” available in more than 50 languages and updating its reporting tool to allow users to flag friends’ concerning posts.

The Safety Center includes bullying prevention advice for teens, parents, and educators and links to more than 60 partner organizations and suicide hotlines, along with privacy and account security tips.

The reporting tool lets users reach out to friends about other friends who may need help. USA Today describes how it works:

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To use the tool, go to the concerning post, click the down arrow in the top right corner, select “Report Post” and click “I think it shouldn’t be on Facebook.” Then, select what is wrong with the post. For users concerned about a suicidal friend, they can select: “It’s threatening, violent or suicidal.” The following window asks to choose a type, where an option is “self-injury or suicide.”

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A window then pops up, prompting users to contact a local authority immediately if they believe their friend is in danger. Plus, Facebook offers a list of next steps: “Reach out to a friend,” “Learn how to talk with Facebook Safety about this” and “Ask us to look at the post.”

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When users select “reach out to a friend,” they have the option to send a direct message to another friend with the concerning post and Facebook suggests this language: “Hey, this post makes me feel worried about [Name]. Do you have any idea why [Name] would have written this? Do you think there’s something we can do to help?”

When Facebook first announced the tool in June, it said “if you or someone you know is in crisis, it is important to call local emergency services right away.” The tool was developed in collaboration with organizations including Lifeline and Save.org.

Facebook first launched its safety center in 2010 and added the bullying prevention hub in 2013.

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