Facebook unveils new suicide prevention tools

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SAN FRANCISCO, Ca--It’s a disturbing and growing trend; people taking their lives and broadcasting it on ‘Facebook Live’.

Now the social media giant says company says they’re going to step up their efforts to prevent it from happening.

Today the company announced new real time suicide prevention tools built in to its live platform. The new features include live chat support from crisis support programs, more streamlined ways for users to report suicide or self-injury cases, and the use of artificial intelligence to help identify warning signs in Facebook posts or comments.

This isn't the company's first suicide prevention tool. Facebook has had forms of suicide prevention tools for the past decade.

Dr. Alexander Niculescu of IU health says this latest feature could help save lives.

“I think we’re in a brave new world where social media is part of the fabric of society and we need to adapt to that,” he said.


Niculescu is an IU School of Medicine professor of psychiatry, currently working at the IU Health Neuroscience Center and the VA.  He says because social media is in a part of the everyday fabric of life it’s important to address everyday challenges such as suicide on a platform where it can reach the most people.

“As a physician I would like to have the ability to at least to try and help people, to nudge them, to intervene to give them the information. And hopefully this intervention will change their directory,” he said.

Dr. Niculescu believes social media plays a role in the uptick of teen suicides in Indiana. Earlier this week the Indiana Youth Institute reported that teen suicides have increased during the last three years. Now Niculescu says it appears social media is starting to provide potential solutions to a growing problem.

“I think technology isn’t good or bad, it’s how you use it. The announcement today from Facebook I think is a positive development that’s trying to use technology for good and we’re very supportive of that,” he said.

For more information on the Facebook Suicide Prevention Tools you can visit: http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2017/03/building-a-safer-community-with-new-suicide-prevention-tools/

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