Facebook Has Introduced New Tools To Prevent Suicide

Facebook Suicide Prevention Efforts

Facebook has released new algorithm-based tools for helping individuals at a risk of committing suicide. Previously the tools would use to analyze individuals’ status updates and interpret their friends’ feedback comments, but now the latest algorithms can intervene in live Facebook videos to prevent suicide.

The tool suggested recommendations from users and suicide prevention organizations, such as Forefront, Lifeline and Save.org, the tool will assist concerned friends or family members in conveying suicidal messages to Facebook.

This decision comes after a 14 year old girl belonging from Miami Florida uploaded a live video of her committing suicide, in January, while only three weeks earlier another girl did the same.

Facebook Suicide Prevention

This technology will now enable friends, family members or even strangers to reach out to the person directly or report it to Facebook directly. Facebook will provide assistance to anyone trying to help the individual, and will also directly assist the person.

The latest algorithms were engineered after talk with the director of US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, John Draper. Draper had this to say, “The more we can mobilise the support network of an individual in distress to help them, the more likely they are to get help. The question is how we can do that in a way that doesn’t feel invasive. I would say though that what they are now offering is a huge step forward.”

Several studies have shown that individuals who use social media excessively are more likely to be lonely and depressed. Teenagers, particularly adolescent girls, are especially hooked to and likely to spend hours on various different social media networks.

Scrolling through Facebook feed, seeing friends hanging out, partying, spending time on holidays or getting hitched can spark jealously, induce depression and prompt self-injury among users.

Experts have related excessive use of social media with adverse effect on mental health, and  concluded that social media induces feeling of stress and anxiety.

No one joins Facebook to be lonely and sad, rather they join to feel a sense of belonging and feeling secure and “social” yet that’s the most pronounced feature of being on these networks. Amidst this scenario, Facebook’s new tool will help aplenty.

Since the technology can monitor activity and flag messages based on keywords such as for example, “I cant take it anymore”, “im really depressed” etc., and now it can even view certain live videos only meant for their friends, it shows that there is a need for a perfect balance between privacy and security.

Many times, this balance is really elusive and rarely achieved by even the most savvy technology companies, as in the case of the ill-fated Samaritans Radar app in 2014, when users complained about invasion of privacy, and the app had to be shut down, even though  it performed exceptionally well and was quite effective at preventing suicides.

Considering these shortcomings of social media platforms such as facebook, this latest initiative is greatly appreciated. Although this is a step in the right direction, many might feel apprehensive about sharing their personal crises with a group of somewhat strangers and analyzed by a tech giant.

But the fact of the matter remains that this step is necessary and one should look past one’s insecurities and look at the big picture. Ultimately this is going to help the user massively, especially since massive impact of internet revolution on shaping up health care solution and improving society in general.

The internet has shaped up connectivity in a massive way and this has given birth to two most important aspects of technology, accessibility and data availability, both of which have contributed massively to healthcare.

Both easier access to patient data and availability of patient data has made research exponentially easier. Even though social media is a bit restrictive due to a privacy and secrecy, this hasn’t stopped it from being a hub for healthcare revolution.

Facebook and twitter joined forces to use their communication power to assist patients on waiting list and to facilitate organ donors, by enabling more than 30 participating transplant centers in the US to share their patient data and data practices for data analysis.

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