I have previously covered the issue of Facebook in relation to the difficult topic of suicide and self-harm with an article about some incidents where a Facebook user sought assistance to handle a suicide attempt across the other side of the world; as well as another drawing attention to teenagers using this service as a counselling resource to reach out to other at-risk teens.
Now Facebook have taken it upon themselves to provide resources to help users worried about a person who is at risk of self-harm or suicide. This is more so where a Facebook status update becomes something to vent one’s feelings as I have seen before many times.
Here, they have exposed these resources and what they can do by showing an infographic flow-chart (PDF) about what they can do to help the user who is worried about their friend. They are exposing this flow-chart using a series of public-service announcements that appear across the Website so everyone who is using Facebook is aware of the resource.
This is in addition to partnering with organisations like Lifeline and Samaritans as well as implementing protocols and procedures to handle these situations especially where it happens in another country. One of the actions can include Facebook drawing the affected person’s attention to their local resources as well as keeping the concerned friend “in the loop” through a special Web dashboard.
As well, they have made a “one-touch” reference list of these organisations in their online help so that anyone across the Internet can be aware of these resources.
What I see of this is that Facebook, due to the sheer number of regular users, has done the right thing to handle this situation and this could open up questions amongst Internet-based online communities about how to handle situations where a person expresses a desire to harm themselves through these communities.