View Full Version : *trigger warning* New Facebook feature: Suicide intervention?


KarmanMonkey
03-05-15, 11:50 AM
Hi all,

My wife came across an article yesterday (is it okay to post the link here?) Apparently, Facebook is launching a feature that allows you to report a friend's post if you are concerned about them engaging in self harm or suicide. They have a network of mental health agencies and other supports and will facilitate a connection with the person, as well as offering live support to the person doing the reporting.

Cool, eh?

Apologies if this is the wrong place to share; I just know that a lot of us have struggled with depression and/or are supporting someone who is.

[see http://www.king5.com/story/tech/2015/02/26/uw-researchers-help-facebook-with-suicide-prevention/24042455/ for background]

Unmanagable
03-05-15, 12:10 PM
I think anytime a social network wants to police society even closer and more intimately, even if it's under the veil of being incredibly helpful in a potential life or death situation, we should be concerned and not so quick to embrace it.

I don't know. It just doesn't set well with me. I'm pretty old school, though, so the technological interventions, apps, etc. don't really have a draw for me. I think it sets us up for unwanted intrusions from strangers with more authority than we have the energy, or money, to go against. I'd rather have my fb "friends" be willing to approach ME about it vs. reporting me to some fb stranger group wishing to help me for my own good.

BellaVita
03-05-15, 02:25 PM
This sounds absolutely terrible.

After already getting sent to a mental hospital in my past because my Dad lied to the police, it makes me think people could abuse this feature and click it to "get back at people" and mess things up in their life.

I think they are getting too involved and should stay out of this.

This makes me scared, makes me want to quit Facebook.

Hyperman87
03-05-15, 02:29 PM
I know right,Bella! :) So many people(especially with ADHD!) Say things, that they don't really mean when stressed or frustrated. I'm a little concerned about ,freedom of speech(here).


If somebody, threatens that(like only once) & never attempts it? You can't necessarily assume that they will carry it out! :)

KarmanMonkey
03-05-15, 04:05 PM
I guess I'm a little nieve, eh? I've also been in a position where someone will post something concerning, then fall off the radar, and since it's someone I only know online (even if it's been for years) I have no way of checking to see if they're okay.

From what I've read, they don't seem to have set it up to be incredibly intrusive; it's more of a "I'm worried about this person" type of thing, and someone at Facebook looks at the situation and if warranted offers to connect one or both with extra support. I highly doubt that they would have the authority to call the police or anything like that.

My experience was a little different than your responses... I was the one who withdrew and needed the help, but didn't ask. I was the person who, if it weren't for a good friend who got through to me, would've died by suicide years ago. I've also lost people to suicide.

So for me, any chance I have to feel less helpless in a situation when I see someone in pain...

I know it should be about their pain and not what I need to feel better, but at the same time I know how isolating it was when I was struggling and how much of a difference it made when someone went to great lengths to make sure I sought help. Granted, she didn't call the police, but only because she'd been through the hospital system herself.

Corina86
03-05-15, 04:13 PM
I think this feature will last 6 months tops because millions of teenagers world-wide are going to use it to prank each other. 3/4 of all calls to the emergency services are prank calls, even though there are laws and punishments to prevent this. Imagine what's it going to be like on facebook.

Unmanagable
03-05-15, 05:24 PM
I guess I'm a little nieve, eh? I've also been in a position where someone will post something concerning, then fall off the radar, and since it's someone I only know online (even if it's been for years) I have no way of checking to see if they're okay.

From what I've read, they don't seem to have set it up to be incredibly intrusive; it's more of a "I'm worried about this person" type of thing, and someone at Facebook looks at the situation and if warranted offers to connect one or both with extra support. I highly doubt that they would have the authority to call the police or anything like that.

My experience was a little different than your responses... I was the one who withdrew and needed the help, but didn't ask. I was the person who, if it weren't for a good friend who got through to me, would've died by suicide years ago. I've also lost people to suicide.

So for me, any chance I have to feel less helpless in a situation when I see someone in pain...

I know it should be about their pain and not what I need to feel better, but at the same time I know how isolating it was when I was struggling and how much of a difference it made when someone went to great lengths to make sure I sought help. Granted, she didn't call the police, but only because she'd been through the hospital system herself.

I've been at the point of almost ending my life, as well, and luckily I failed miserably at it the first time, and had a good friend help me through the other times. I'm not so sure an unwelcomed stranger would have been able to read me or reach me during that time, nor would I have wanted them to, honestly. Having it be a good friend made all the difference, I feel. I also share in your pains of losing multiple loved ones to suicide. It's never easy and we always feel we should, or could, have done something more to help, if we'd only known.

I recently went through the hospital system with my sister, who was in this same capacity, and still have some fresh and deep wounds from that experience. They were supposedly the cream of the crop when it comes to well meaning strangers who have the patient's best interest at heart, however, I observed a lot of things that made her situation much worse, yet I had no control and was limited in how I could help once she was in their care. It's an experience that no one can understand until they've lived it. The best of intentions have hurt some folks beyond repair.

Helping hands are much needed, but a lot also depends on who and what they are attached to. Unfortunately, some equate help with control and abuse their positions.

Fuzzy12
03-05-15, 05:25 PM
When someone sees a post that suggests the author might be considering suicide, they can click on a dropdown menu and report the post to Facebook. The reporting activates a series of responses, including options on how to talk to that friend about suicide and ways to speak directly with a trained professional at a suicide helpline.

I'm not a fan of Facebook but this doesn't sound so bad to me and it might actually help some people. So if I understand correctly neither Facebook nor anyone else is actually going to contact the reported person. It's just that they will provide information to the reporting friend on how to deal with a potentially suicidal friend and contact information to get more help. That sounds good.

What I don't understand though is if that is how it works, what is the need to report a post? Why not just provide a link to the page with helpful information or useful contacts? I wonder what Facebook will do with the info of who has been reported as suicidal.

Hm, apparently you report posts so that Facebook can give identifying information to the national suicide prevention agency (or something) but what that agency can do I've got no clue yet.

Ok..so apparently once a post has been reported Facebook will review the post and if deemed necessary contact the person whose post was reported with helpful information. Again, doesn't sound like a terrible idea except that I'm not sure how feasible the whole thing is since they will need a lot man power and more importantly, what are they going to do with that information? How protected and confidential is that information? The fact that this info isn't easy to be found,ie that no one seems to mention data protection issues, sounds a bit dodgy to me.

But then I haven't checked on Facebook what they at so maybe I shouldn't judge. Yet. Anyway, apiarentlu this feature is only available in the US and Canada.

Fuzzy12
03-05-15, 05:55 PM
I don't think that help coming from a stranger is necessarily a bad thing or makes it useless. Whenever I've dealt with suicidal ideation, the only people I would have confided in are strangers. It differs from person to person, I guess.

MimiFM
03-05-15, 11:14 PM
I'm sure it's well-intentioned but if it's like anything else Facebook does, it'll be fraught with problems. If someone's name/account is reported for comments that can be interpreted as suicidal, that person will have a hard time getting that information removed from the assortment of stuff that's already scraped and collected about people from online sources. The concept isn't a bad one, but instead of a post being reported to Facebook, it'd be better if it was able to be reported to a third party mental health source that would guarantee confidentiality. Facebook's record of protecting personal information isn't impressive. And frankly, I wouldn't trust Facebook not to keep lists of reported posts so that they can sell the lists to drug/supplement companies in the guise of offering help to depressed people.

KarmanMonkey
03-06-15, 11:28 AM
In the end my feeling is that any extra way that people can access help is a good one. I agree that there's no guarantee that a stranger will have a good approach, and I know that from working in the field that even a great staff will have gaps in their knowledge; there's no guarantee that they will be free of some of the old school beliefs that are supremely unhelpful. At the same time, there are times when you can only talk to a stranger because there are things you simply can't say out loud with your friends and family.

I was talking to one of my coworkers the other day about a family she's supporting, and the whole concept that the first thing they teach you these days is that you have to ask someone directly if they have thoughts of suicide. Putting a name to it is a huge part of being able to talk about it. The problem is that there are a lot of friends and family that have no clue what to do if the person says yes.

Reading the article, I get the impression that they're trying to offer support to both parties (the reporter and the reportee) withought it being too intrusive. After all, if you know that saying something on facebook will lead to cops breaking down your front door, how likely are you to say anything?

I also agree that lots of the reports (though maybe not 3/4 -- I imagine facebook will have a policy around making frivilous reports) will be pranks, overreactions, revenge, bullying or any number of other things, but I'd much rather extend a hand to 10 people who don't need it if it means I extend a hand to one person who's drowning.

I know people who work law enforcement, and they do get some fake calls, but most of them aren't kids pulling pranks, but rather people who have weird ideas of when to call the police (e.g. "You need to send the cops because Bob hasn't paid me back the $10 he owes me")

When it comes to suicide, the general public have no idea how to talk about it. Even when I was going through it myself I didn't know how. So having a resource that will help us start the conversation in a healthy way? Even with all the potential problems, I'll take it :-)