What to do if a friend's Facebook posts signal a suicide risk


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By providing another outlet for people to connect, social media also offers an opportunity to help prevent suicides. But how do you respond to a post — or multiple posts — that suggest a Facebook friend could be in danger?

September is Suicide Prevention Month, and Facebook is reaching out with answers to that question through an infographic it shared this week. The illustration shows users that they have options when they fear another user may be considering ending his or her life. 

Click the image below to zoom in.


To take action, you can:

  1. Click the "Report" link in the upper right corner of the post. Facebook will then provide you with a list of global suicide prevention resources. You can choose to either find and call your local suicide prevention hotline for advice or give the contact information to your friend. If you choose to fully report the post, Facebook will directly provide resources to your friend and review the content. If they detect a threat, Facebook will provide the friend with resources and require him or her to review them before resuming his or her Facebook. If they feel it's necessary, they may contact law enforcement.

  2. Use the search bar to search for "Suicide." Choose the first option: "Facebook Help: Suicide," and you can decide to either review global suicide prevention resources or file a report, which is outlined in option 1.

  3. Go directly to Facebook's Help Center (www.Facebook.com/help) and search for resources to help prevent suicide. You then, once again, have the option to either review prevention resources or file a report.


Warning signs

According to the World Health Organization, suicide is a leading cause of death among people ages 15 to 44 years old. Facebook recommends looking out for these warning signs that a Facebook friend might be in trouble: 

  • Someone getting increasingly angry, violent or making threats

  • The words they are using are more depressed or anxious sounding

  • They talk about feeling hopeless or helpless

  • They stop posting or responding to posts as frequently or quickly as they had in the past

  • Everything they post has a negative or “life-ending” tone

  • They stop communicating about their hopes and dreams for the future (graduation, a job, a car, getting married, etc.)


How to help them directly

If you're concerned someone might be suicidal, Facebook recommends taking the following steps:

  1. Ask them directly if they have been thinking about suicide. Research has shown that this will not put a thought into their heads or make them want to attempt it. Actually, it helps them feel like someone understands.

  2. Stay with them: don’t leave them alone. Call someone to help you or go with them for help. Leaving someone alone who just told you about their feelings of helplessness and thoughts of ending their life could put them at a higher risk.

  3. Remain calm and engage them in a conversation. For youth, go to the You Matter blog to learn about other teens that are struggling, how they cope and how to get the help that will work for you.

  4. Remove or reduce access to lethal means of suicide, like alcohol or keys to the car. Do what you can to keep your friend or loved one safe until help arrives or you can get to a healthcare professional.


To read more from Facebook on suicide prevention, click here and here