Sadly, it’s not uncommon to hear stories of people who die and then people say, “I should have seen it, even their Facebook hinted at depression”. Well now Facebook plans on making this a thing of a past by offering emotional support for people who may need it via the social network.
How It Will Work
The new system works by friends flagging suspected cases of depression or emotional distress and then Facebook help them get in contact with trained users via the Facebook Chat feature. These specialists are the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Flagging friends is not the same as reporting spam or misuse of the site. It simply gives concerned friends or family the chance to share their feelings and ask Facebook for confidential help that is maybe not as intrusive as forcing them to see a specialist in real life. The hope is that vulnerable people will feel far more comfortable talking to a professional in a familiar and safe online environment from the comfort of their own bedroom, rather than picking up the phone or going to a walk in centre which may be more pressured. It’s estimated that 50 people a day are currently using the services.
This new service provides a way for them to get the help they need in the way they want it.” ~ National Suicide Prevention Lifeline spokesperson courtesy of BBC Online
Further Support Integrations
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline are not the only people who have an interest in helping vulnerable people over Facebook. The Samaritans are also in talks about having a more enhanced chat feature. The Samaritans have helped with Facebook before when they Facebook first started flagging worrying comments/updates etc but now wish to expand this and become more accessible. This interest is aimed more at the UK rather than just the US like the current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is aimed at.
Key Take Away
With so many people, particularly young people who may be experiencing issues using Facebook, it’s great to know that this social network has a way of helping and reaching out. People are not always comfortable about going to a stranger face to face and talking to them so doing it online, the same way they would talk to friends online, really does make the feel more comfortable and relaxed so more able to talk. Are Facebook under obligation to help? No, I don’t think so but for them to ensure there are steps n place to help the vulnerable is a good thing, it shows that they are human and that they realise they are in a position to help. If it proves to be a successful and needed theme, I am sure more countries will be taking up the Good Samaritan role on social networks.
~ Sources mentioned in this article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16164222