Facebook has launched a suicide prevention tool in the UK to help at risk users.
The tool, which was developed alongside the Samaritans, will provide support for those who are feeling suicidal, as well as their friends and family.
There were 6,122 suicides of people aged 10 and over registered in the UK in 2014, according to Office National Statistics (ONS) - that's almost 17 per day. Male suicides also greatly outnumber female, accounting for 76% of all suicides that year.
Over half the UK population (36 million people) is on Facebook, putting the site in a unique position to reach out to vulnerable people.
The feature will work in a variety of different ways.
Users who are thought to be at risk of suicide will be encouraged to connect with a trained volunteer at Samaritans. They will also be prompted to reach out to a friend and provided with tips and advice on how they can work through these feelings.
All users will have the opportunity to flag concerning content to Facebook. These will be sent to a 24-hour team, who review any posts of concern. These posts are prioritised and help options and resources are sent to those thought to be in distress.
Facebook are also providing resources and support to users who flag troubling posts, including options for them to call or message their distressed friend letting them know they care, or reaching out to another friend or a trained volunteer for support.
Julie de Bailliencourt, Safety Policy manager, EMEA, Facebook said: "Keeping the Facebook community safe is our most important responsibility. We worked with organisations including Samaritans to develop these tools, and one of the first things they told us was how much connecting with people who care can help those who are struggling to cope – whether offline or online.
"People use Facebook to connect with friends and family, and that’s why we’re evolving the support, resources and advice available to people who are in distress and their concerned friends and family members."
Speaking to Newsbeat, Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland said: "If people can start to talk about the unbearable pain that they're facing, we can interrupt that journey towards suicide. Suicide is not inevitable, it is preventable. This tools plays a really vital role in achieving that. "
An early version of the tool was launched in the US last year and it was rolled out in Australia in December.
Useful websites and helplines:
- Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
- Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
- Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Mon-Fri 10-5pm and 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41
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