Toward the end of 2017, Facebook announced that they would be using Artificial Intelligence along with user 'flagging' to help screen posts and videos of people who are potentially suicidal or in danger of hurting themselves.
Here at HopeLine, we decided to do our own investigation into how this screening tool works, and if it is easy for people to notify Facebook of a potential suicidal person.
We had our Volunteer Coordinator, Sabrina, post something that was something similar to what we hear our callers and texters saying when they are considering suicide. We stepped through the entire process, and honestly, we are very impressed with how Facebook has implemented this feature.
If you are on Facebook, I'm sure there has been a time where you see a friend or family member post or share something that makes you wonder if they are doing alright, here are the steps you can take to do something about it!
1. On the top right corner of the post you are concerned about, there are three dots in a row that you can click on:
2. Options will pop up about how you want to move forward with getting Sabrina help, you want to select "Give feedback on this post" and the following options will pop up. Make the selection that fits the situation best, in this case, it is "suicide or self-injury":
3. After you select "send" it will tell you that Facebook has received our feedback and some other steps you can take. Since we are worried about Sabrina and want to keep being her friend, we chose the "See Resources" button on the bottom right corner to see what resources are available:
4. After clicking on "see Resources" the following list pops up. You can select what additional steps we can take for Sabrina. We can get more ideas, reach out to her, send a card, or connect with another friend to see what we can do:
5. We wanted to step through and see what each option looked like, so the next few pictures show each of the four options that we have:
We really liked how each different option gave you ideas and even some pre-entered phrases that were simple to send to Sabrina or to a mutual friend. Sometimes the hardest part in reaching out for support or help is knowing what to say, so we thought this was a really great way to approach that barrier that most people have.
Our favorite thing about this new feature on Facebook is that it gives people the tools to help their loved ones, even when they aren't sure how, especially on the page "Ideas about how to support Sabrina". We love the tips that it mentions including: empathize and listen, validate your friend's emotions, ask open-ended questions, make sure they are safe, and connect them with a counselor/ health professional/ or helpline. The reason we love this so much is because this is all about ACTIVE LISTENING, which we train our volunteers to use on our crisis line and text line. We are so excited that more people are going to be exposed to active listening and understand how to better support and understand people who are experiencing a crisis. We hope that these tools can help support and connect those in need to services like HopeLine to help save lives!
You can reach a HopeLine volunteer by calling or texting 919-231-4525 or 877-235-4525.
You Talk. We Listen.