Teen suicide is a devastating thing for family members to go through, and many people are left wondering what they could have done to make a difference in the victim’s hour of need.
One well-known company is stepping up and using technology to link depressed and suicidal teens to friends and family, counselors and more, in hopes that intervention can prevent suicide. Facebook’s suicide prevention feature may just save lives.
Clues to Suicidal Behavior
How can technology companies work toward helping teens prevent suicide? Facebook, the most popular social media platform in the world, is used by millions of people each day, and the company believes that it can help detect posts that may hold clues to whether or not a teen is feeling depressed or thinking about self-harm.
Partnering with teen suicide prevention organizations like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Save.org, Facebook is boosting the number of options that people have if they see some concerning posts from a friend.
Here’s how it works:
A teen posts something that concerns a reader.
The reader can “report” the post to Facebook, and is given some options like contacting the teen directly or linking to teen suicide support resources.
Facebook reviews the reported message and decides if it indicates further steps are needed.
When the teen next logs on to Facebook, they receive a message that their post indicates they may be having a hard time.
The teen is presents them with some options, like contact a friend or get professional support.
This new process will better help friends and family members act immediately when they see that a teen they know is posting cryptic, distressing or otherwise worrisome posts. If teens try to express themselves in person, they often fail, but via social media, they may be more open to sharing their feelings and worries.
Technology Can Help Suicidal Teens
There are now more ways than ever for depressed or suicidal teens to reach out and get help. With social media, live chats, forums, video chats and instant messaging and so much more, teens are only a few seconds away from receiving help and support from loved ones or trained experts who know how to help suicidal teens.
Often, when teens are thinking about suicide, they begin reaching out for help in subtle ways, seeing if there are any reactions. With innovative steps like the ones Facebook is taking, there are even more immediate ways that suicidal teens can get the support they need before it is too late. Intervention is the first step, which can lead to longer lasting and more permanent help, such as professional counseling, therapeutic boarding schools, and even medication if necessary.
It’s encouraging to see that big technology companies are taking these important measures to empower friends and family members to make a difference in a teen’s life when it is desperately needed. Hopefully more companies will follow this example and use technology to reduce the number of teen suicides each year.