The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline staffs the national suicide hotline (1-800-273-TALK) and now has teamed up with Facebook, the world’s largest social network, to offer online crisis services to certain Facebook members.
I say “certain” Facebook members, because you can’t just log onto Facebook and seek out this free service. You first have to actually publicly post a comment somewhere — like on your wall — that you’re suicidal. Then you have to wait for a concerned friend or family member to read your post, click on the “Report” link, and report it to Facebook. Then, a Facebook staffer looks at the report and, if it meets its suicide criteria, will send the original Facebook user an email.
In this email from Facebook, the user will find a reminder about the national suicide hotline. But this special email also contains something you won’t find on the Facebook website, nor the website of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — a link to chat immediately online with a volunteer crisis counselor.
Facebook is providing the financial support for this new service, so not surprisingly it wants to limit its use. That’s a shame, because with the resources of a company like Facebook, they should make this sort of suicidal crisis chat service available to any of their users — without them first having to publicly come out and post about their suicidal intent.
This a great new resource and we commend both Facebook and the Lifeline for providing it as an option to their users. But the new service has a dark side as well…
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