You’re worried about a friend: is Facebook the only way?

With 1.65 billion monthly active users, Facebook is currently the biggest social networking service, with many people turning to the platform to express their thoughts and feelings.

In the hope of aiding users, Facebook has updated its suicide prevention tool. The feature is now available worldwide and allows users to easily report posts they believe require attention. If you are worried about someone and report a user’s post, they will receive a confidential message saying: “Someone who saw your post thinks you might be going through a difficult time. If you want support, we’d like to help.”

The statistics

  • According to the Men’s Health Forum, (as of July 2014) 4 in 5 suicides (78%) are by men and suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under the age of 35.
  • The Mental Health Foundation report 70% of young people who experience a mental health problem are not receiving the appropriate support.
  • A 2016 Time to Change survey found that of the 7,000 people, 60% reported feeling relieved after talking about their condition.

Facebook Safety said, “With the help of these new tools, if a person posts something on Facebook that makes you worry about their well-being, you can reach out to them directly – and you can also report the post to us.”

What do you think of this new feature?

FB tool 1

Is flagging a post on Facebook the best way to help a friend in need?

The team at Counselling Directory explored the feature and share their thoughts.

  • “I think it’s a good start, but it could still be easier to report/help the person – I don’t like how it is mixed in with spam posts etc.”
  • “It looks like a good idea and I’m glad it doesn’t mention who reported it. As long as it’s used correctly, it could be the little push to help someone.”
  • “While it’s a great idea, I worry that if the person is already unhappy and unstable, receiving a notification that somebody has noticed a problem may push them to worry and fear they are being judged.”
  • “The idea is great, but I’m not sure of the process – shouldn’t a friend contact the person directly, rather than use Facebook?”
  • “I think it’s a cool idea. I’m curious about the tips – are they always the same? It might get a bit distressing if someone keeps getting the same ‘advice’ from facebook – not very helpful! Also I worry that this could stop some people offering actual advice – easier to just hit a button than stop and write something. Could this feel a bit soulless after a while?”
  • “The steps to feedback are too long and not particularly relevant – I would have looked at the first three options and assumed what I was looking for wasn’t there. I wouldn’t have guessed it was under ‘I think this shouldn’t be on Facebook’ but it is better than nothing!”

There are mixed reviews on the updated feature, however, we do believe that highlighting the issue and raising awareness is very important. Even if this feature helps just one person, one life is enough.

Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Written by Ellen Lees
Head of Content.
Written by Ellen Lees
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