Early Wednesday morning Facebook announced that it is updating the tools and resources they offer to people thinking about attempting suicide, as well as the support they extend to friends and families of suicide victims. The new features include:
- Integrated suicide prevention tools to help people in real time on Facebook Live: People watching a live video have the option to reach out to the person directly and to report the video. Facebook will also provide resources to the person reporting the live video to assist them in helping their friend.
- Live chat support from crisis support organizations through Messenger: Participating organizations include Crisis Text Line, the National Eating Disorder Association, and the National Suicide Prevention Line.
- Streamlined reporting for suicide, assisted by artificial intelligence: The AI tool will make the option to report a post about "suicide or self injury" more prominent for potentially concerning posts.
- Launch of a new video campaign with partner organizations across the globe to raise awareness about ways to help a friend in need.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg also signaled these reforms were coming in his manifesto last week in response to a new phenomenon where users have been documented committing suicide on its Facebook Live streaming service. In January, a 14-year-old girl hung herself in her Florida foster home, and a 33-year-old aspiring actor shot himself in a car in LA, both on Facebook Live. In October, a man who had broken up with his girlfriend told Live viewers: "No one believed when I said will kill myself. So watch this." Facebook is hoping these new features will prevent these instances from happening on its site in the future, as well as encourage users to get the help they need.