Facebook announced an expansion to the its existing suicide prevention tools. After a series of live-streamed suicides, the company announced last week that people streaming via Facebook live as well as their audience will get better access to reporting and support.
In January, a 12-year-old girl in Georgia, a 14-year-old in Florida and a 33-year-old man in Southern California streamed messages and their final moments. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in America and the second leading for people ages 10 to 34.
To understand why someone would choose to broadcast their suicide live, I asked Dr. Dan Reidenberg, Managing Director of the National Council for Suicide Prevention. He said, "They tend not to have very clear logic or reasoning at the very end and so they’re broadcasting exactly what’s going on for them and the idea that they are broadcasting live is this hope, this last-ditch hope that somebody is gonna be able to reach out and help."
In February, Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out a manifesto to basically, save the world. In it he mentioned, "There have been terribly tragic events -- like suicides, some live streamed -- that perhaps could have been prevented if someone had realized what was happening and reported them sooner."
Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg posted the news of the launch on her Facebook page saying, "We’ve redesigned our suicide prevention tools for Facebook Live based on feedback from experts. People watching a Live can see options to get more information about supporting someone and report the video to us. The person streaming live will see a set of resources and can reach out to a friend or contact a helpline."
The way it works, according to Facebook, is that people watching a live video can reach out directly, report the video or choose from a list of resources to help their friend. For the person sharing the video, private messages will pop up – that only they can see – offering the options of reaching out to someone, contacting a helpline or see other tips.
Facebook also launched a video campaign and is testing pattern recognition software that could identify posts as “likely to include thoughts of suicide.”