Facebook offers new tools to help prevent suicides

Facebook is rolling out tools to help prevent suicides including options allowing users to report worrying live videos after a number of users streamed themselves taking their own life in recent months.

Engineers are also working on artificial intelligence which could help identify concerning posts and automatically offer mental health resources, the company announced in a blog post.

The post said that suicide is the second highest cause of death for people aged between 15-29 - but research showed that offering contact from friends and family was one of the most effective ways to prevent it.

Facebook has previously announced tools that allow friends to report posts which are concerning. It then sends the user a confidential message offering to help them reach out to friends or access helplines.

The new features build on that by:

  • Allowing users to report worrying live video

  • Offering live chat support from crisis support groups on messanger

  • Developing artificial intelligence to recognise those at risk

Facebook said that anyone whose video was reported as potentially suicidal would be sent support resources which would pop up on their screen.

Users are given options including a template text to ask loved ones to for help or details of helplines that can offer support.

The company said it was also developing AI that would work to find potentially suicidal posts through pattern recognition. Posts highlighted under the trial, which is currently underway in the US, will be reviewed by a human and then the users sent support material if appropriate.

If you are in distress or need some support, the Samaritans are available 24 hours a day on 116 123 or visit their website.