Social suicide - Facebook makes mental health a social issue with new support tools

Facebook has announced plans on its blog to roll out a new support platform for users who share suicidal thoughts on the site.

Working with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Now Matters Now in America, Facebook says it’s finding the correct way to assist people struggling with suicidal thoughts on the network. Users that post content that points to potential self-harm or suicide will be encouraged to speak to a mental health expert if that content is reported.

Facebook will also give people who flag concerning posts the option to call or message the person as well as access to the suicide hotline for extra support.

The service will roll out in the US over the next couple of months with Facebook working to improve the tool for use around the world.

This is a bold and welcome step from Facebook and it will be interesting to see how it works and what other social platforms do in response. To us it seems a fairly obvious pairing – mental health needs to be talked about more and social media is where people do most of their talking these days. With the right support and advice from charities like the Samaritans here in the UK Facebook could remove the final barriers and stigma around mental health and suicide and provide a safe, expert space for people to help their friends and themselves.