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Woa - Facebook has introduced a simple and easy way for users to confidentially report any comments/activity that could be from someone contemplating suicide. Turns out that Facebook and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline have been partners since 2006, but this new service is surely an amazing new way to bring the potential support right to where people spend huge amounts of time... Facebook.com, and where they may post messages crying out for help.

You may recall the tragic loss of our social media friend Trey Pennington a few months back. It's so sad to think of "what if's" ... and suicide is such a heavy topic that not too many folks care to talk about. Likely most of us think it'll never happen to people we know... but it does.

I think this move by Facebook and Lifeline is very positive. And it shows just how much Facebook is becoming an integral part of our ecosystem and communications evolution. How about you?
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33 comments
 
Could also be very invasive , when a young girl posts "I'm depressed" , next thing you know the State Police come ringing your doorbell at 5:30 A.M. (This has happened to my family) We were not impressed!!!
 
Wow, will this undo cyber bulling which leads to suicide? It's good step in right direction, but is it enough?
 
My opinion is , this is another step towards a "Police State"...Big Brother needs to BACK OFF!!!
 
+Randall Waltz oh dear - that is very unfortunate about the intrusive visit. I can imagine that would be frustrating. However, I also think that with the authorities erring on the side of caution, lives could potentially be saved and the loved ones would surely be thankful of an intervention. It's a tricky area.
 
+Mari Smith wasn't lesson in Minority Report was you can't predict crimes, therefore by that logic, you canne be sure those dark depressing poems, are suicidal in nature. Sometimes even suicide seems too good, this happened to me, I wrote depressing poems and posted lots on facebook about it.
 
I think this move should be applauded. This has absolutely nothing to do with big brother. First of all, it has to be reported by a concerned person. Facebook is not simply acting on their own (not that I would have a problem with that).

People can be wrong, yes. But, what if they're right? You have to accept that there will be a margin of error and that some people will also report people as a way of annoying them or trying to hurt them. That margin for error should not discourage the effort.

Second, Facebook is not the government. If you post things on Facebook that indicate you may be suicidal, it is not outside of the realm of Facebook's responsibility to want to try to stop you from acting on it.

That doesn't mean this will be effective or that it will, in the long term, prove worthwhile. But, given the opposite, it is worth trying.
 
This has the potential to be invasive and inappropriate if abused, but if it saves some people it's worth it. It depends on how it gets used. 
 
Oh boy... this is so going to be abused. All cyber bullies will be all over this one. Send police to the victim's house at 2am, that's just the thing. Do it day after day until police stops coming to that address, then drive the target to suicide (police at 2am probably laid some groundwork already).
 
+Fedor Pikus oh good lord, surely not. :( I don't think the purpose of the live Facebook chat with a trained Lifeline counsellor is to send police out to homes all over the place. It's more as a lifeline for people who may not feel comfortable picking up the phone to call for support... and for friends of loved ones to know there is a quick and efficient source of support on standby via the live chat.
 
As an aside, I don't see anything about calling the police. I see, from the article: "She’ll then receive an email from Facebook with a link to begin a confidential chat session with a Lifeline crisis worker. The email response will also include the phone number for the free hotline." I don't see anything about calling the police at all, let alone sending them to random houses at 2 AM.

You have to read the story for what it is, not read into it and assume it'll be implemented in the most haphazard way possible.
 
+Mari Smith Happy Holidays Mari. That's really cool. There's nothing good about suicide and it happens way to much here in Idaho. I haven't had the time to post lately but wanted to stop by and thank you for being a leader in Social Media. Think Abba! :-)
 
I do NOT believe Facebook really cares about preventing suicide or is trying to help anyone who may "need" help! Facebook IS encouraging people to "confidentially" report all sorts of comments/activity (and NOT just people who seem like they may be suicidal) the same way that the Department of Homeland Security wants people who "see something to say something". Facebook has made it very clear, again and again, that they do NOT believe in personal privacy - and that they intent upon gathering as much personal information about everyone as possible. Facebook now seems to require my cell phone number to sign in. What if I don't have one? It has NOTHING to do with "security". Phones are used to (physically) track people - and cross-reference information they do not yet have. Facebook wants every photo (even those not of people) identified/tagged with someone's name (to add to their facial recognition database). I'm not sure Google is really any better. I probably would not care or sound paranoid if every day some new "law" wasn't passed like the one making it "legal" to stop, detain, and imprison ANYONE in the U.S. - even without ANY charges and NO release EVEN if found NOT guilty by a judge and jury. If Facebook or anyone else wanted to stop suicide they would encourage hope and acceptance rather than fear and suspicion. There is NO reason for every communication on social media, email, and phone to be monitored and screened - for commerce or "security". I think these practice contribute to rather than discourage suicide, depression, apathy, and other symptoms of a deeper problem.
 
Thank you for sharing +Mari Smith As a board member for Crime Survivors, Inc, I know that suicides sometimes happen with plenty of warning. The difference in the ones that are prevented is that someone took steps to listen to the cry for help and act on it.

It's interesting that this comes to light now, after a girl in Texas tweeted each step of her suicide, and not one of her friends took it seriously. She tweeted 144 times!! Any one of her 500+ twitter followers/friends could have stopped it, if only they had paid attention.

After hearing that story, I encouraged my Facebook friends to report any signs of suicide, should they ever see it in their News Feed. My exact words, "I would rather "feel stupid" for calling the cops to go to their house if it is a sick joke, than have the guilt of not having done something to stop it if it is real." God forbid I should ever have to use this feature.

Here's Ashley's story: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/10/ashley-billasano-high-sch_n_1087001.html
 
if somebody wants to get off this planet, why stop them? There are a couple of Billion too many in any case.
Privacy Invasion Alert
Also, someone with a dark sense of humour is going to post things and suddenly have the 'anti suicide commando team' at the door, and they goe to jail because they 'wasted' resources? Come on - get a life people - if somebody wants to commit suicide - let them!
Let Darwin rule!
 
+Eric Sommer what a horrible thing to say. I doubt you'd feel that way if your parents, spouse, or children were to take their own life?
 
In general, there is way too much interference into other peoples lives by busybodies. Yes, it would be sad if they felt they could not cope anymore, but it is their life, and if they don't want to live it, well their choice!
 
If you cannot cope with life, you should not live in it. I am someone who suffered through severe clinical depression for years (and still do) and one thing I've found to be true: if you don't think you can do it, you won't. You have to believe in yourself if you want to do anything in life.
 
If you want to help some contact them yourself and let them know YOU care. Notifying or "reporting" to the police or other agency is seldom in anyone's interest. Suicide is considered a crime. Rather than help, you are just getting them in trouble and incurring financial costs on both the individual and society. The same is true for calling 9-1-1 for MOST situations that YOU are unwilling to get personally involved. Often the WORST thing you can do for someone is to call someone else and expect them to "handle" it while you simply go on with your day. Take PERSONAL responsibility. People now often seem afraid to just talk to each other and do anything on their own. Someone contemplating suicide does NOT (usually) need or want police intervention. If they are really committed to dying, no can or should stop them. If they are not, what they need is someone like YOU to care and let them know - rather than just "reporting" your "concern" while not getting involved.
 
This is great, Mari! Thanks for sharing. I wish there was a way to trace YouTube videos. Do you know of one? My son is on a personal mission after seeing one recently where a girl actually said goodby in a video, indicating that she intended to commit suicide. He saw it an hour after she posted it. (Both of my kids have had friends commit suicide.) He plans on producing a video against suicide using as a template a very popular video by a young man who contemplated suicide and changed his mind; this young girl copied that very same video but did not change her mind...or so we think. We tried using facebook to get her face out to as many people as we could, but we have no idea if anyone saw her and found her in time.
 
As for all the other comments, until you've know kids who have committed suicide, have known their parents, have seen your children suffer at the loss of their friends, known the circumstances, seen how other kids begin to copy those who have taken their lives...you just cannot understand the full tragedy. And these kids do not know what they are doing. They are choosing a permanent solution to a temporary problem when they do not have the capacity to totally understand this. It's horrific. And no one is to blame. We have to do anything we can to help them and to stop them if possible.
 
It's NOT only "kids" who contemplate/attempt/commit suicide. Even rich, famous, and successful adults do. Monitoring and reporting social media posts will NOT change anyone's "reasons" for not wanting to live - but may increase the number of posts by those who only are seeking some kind attention and discourage posts from those who are actually serious about dying.
 
I feel your passion on this topic, +Oren Pardes. I do agree with you about taking personal responsibility to reach out and connect and demonstrate care if/when someone shows suicidal tendencies. I don't profess to know the depths of what causes depression or the desire to take one's life, but I do know the difference it can make for people to know how much they are loved and how much they matter and are wanted on the planet. I have watched my own spiritual teacher +Esperanza Universal work absolute miracles with people of all ages on the brink of taking their own lives.
 
Thanks for your comments +Nina Amir - interesting re the YouTube video; I don't know what to recommend there. So sorry to hear about your kids' friends - I can't imagine the distress this causes to those left behind who were close to the person.
 
Thanks for the response, +Mari Smith. I read something yesterday about how social media in many ways tends to disconnect people from personal interaction (anywhere else than online). I don't know if I'd call it a passion, but I do believe that the most important "care" a person "in need" can receive is someone caring ABOUT them, not just FOR them (and that is what I stressed when I used to teach emergency first aid). I am not an expert on suicide or depression, but I knew people, including a first cousin, who killed themselves. I also worked for several years in emergency rooms helping care both for and about people who did not quite succeed in their attempts to kill themselves (in all sorts of ways). I have much more sympathy for people who don't try to kill themselves than for those who do. I also think that not everyone is "better of" living. Although it has been quite a while since I've seen her in person, I, too, know +Esperanza Universal - and because you mentioned her, have added her to one of my Google+ "circles". Since Facebook won't let me log in or access my profile and pages without giving them a cell phone number, I might start using Google+ more than in the past. We'll see.
 
+Oren Pardes I think it probably is true that social media can disconnect people in some ways--kids today, for instance, rarely pick up the phone and actually speak to each other; they prefer to text or chat on Facebook. However, I thought it touching that my son and his friends wanted to reach out to this girl after seeing her suicidal video on YouTube to do exactly as you suggest--show her they care ABOUT her. They wanted people to leave comments telling her that she mattered.

It's an easy out for those who succeed in killing themselves. It's harder for those left behind, that's for sure. And it's very courageous to actually choose to live.

Here's the video that was copied by the young girl. It's of a boy who chose to live. Very moving. Whats goin on.. Interestingly, he chose not to speak...and to listen to something else at the same time as offering his message.
 
+Nina Amir Here's a video where the boy does speak: Jonah Mowry video. what do YOU believe?. BOTH videos make it clear that he was NOT considering killing himself - just cutting himself. I have met people who do this. How and where they cut is not intended to end their lives. I doubt being accepted, liked, and popular at school (or not) have much to do with his cutting himself or making either video.
 
+Nina Amir Glad to hear that your son and his friends want to reach out. What people are willing to die for is usually far less important than what they are willing to live for. It's also usually much more challenging. Communication by text, email, and social media posts allows for more people to be reached, at greater convenience, and at less cost - BUT it is NOT really interacting with another human, let alone a friend. Public posts make it possible to know a great deal ABOUT someone without really knowing THEM at all. "Friends" who do not talk (see and touch) in person are NOT really friends. How can they be? High tech requires high touch for balance. Many parents working for internet social media companies choose to send their children to schools that PROHIBIT the use of ANY/ALL electronic devices (and internet use) on campus. They tend to learn more, score higher on tests, and have better relationships.
 
+Oren Pardes That was my point. Kids now don't realize that they are not really connecting on a deep level. They are not truly becoming friends or spending time with each other. It's just surface deep--screen deep. That's sad. And then they choose to communicate via video when it matters... Even sadder really. Thanks for sharing the video.
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