This new facility will allow any Facebook users to submit reports of any suicidal content they see by following a link which will allow them to enter details of the person they are concerned about.
If the person is judged to be in any immediate danger then Facebook will prompt the police and pass on the alerts to the Samaritans who will be in touch within 12 hours. The Samaritans will also be running an awareness campaign on their Facebook page, which features valuable support and advice on how to help vulnerable friends.
Though both parties state the new facility is unrelated to any specific events, the launch does follow on from a series of incidents in which users of Facebook posted messages and status updates before attempting suicide.
One particular case that received much media attention, was that of charity worker Simone Back, who posted to her 1,048 friends on Facebook to say that she was taking an overdose. Not one of her friends went round to see if she was OK and the alarm was not raised until the following day when Miss Beck was found dead.
Samaritans Chief Executive, Catherine Johnstone, said: “Facebook is a part of daily life for so many of us and we must make sure that people online have support when they need it. We are harnessing the power of friendship so people can get help – as a friend you are better placed to know whether someone close to you is struggling to cope or even feeling suicidal.”