Facebook is taking extra steps to make sure users don’t commit suicide as a last resort. While the social networking site has provided the phone number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for quite some time now, today they enabled an instant chat feature that will appear if a friend alerts Facebook of a loved one with suicidal thoughts.
On USAToday.com, The Associated Press reported that users will now be able to instantly speak with a crisis counselor via Instant Messenger, which experts said could “make all the difference with someone seeking help.”
Facebook will not be monitoring posts for suicidal thoughts, so friends are encouraged to report it to Facebook by clicking a link next to the post. Facebook would then send the individual an e-mail encouraging them to call the hotline or click on a link for a confidential chat.
Fred Wolens, Facebook’s public policy manager, said, “The only people who will have a really good idea of what’s going on is your friends so we’re encouraging them to speak up and giving them an easy and quick way to get help.”
AP reported that last month Pittsburg, Calif. authorities said “a man posted a suicide note on Facebook before he killed his wife and in-laws” before killing himself.
In July, Pennsylvania authorities were able to prevent a man from committing suicide after his Californian friend alerted the police about his suicidal post. The man was then committed to a hospital.