Facebook offers suicide prevention information for military, veterans, families

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By Brittany Darwell

Facebook today announced it will offer military-specific suicide prevention information for veterans, active duty service members and their families as part of a partnership with Blue Star Families and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The social network already allows users to report potentially suicidal content from friends. The person who posted the content will immediately receive an email from Facebook encouraging them to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or click on a link to begin a confidential chat session with a crisis worker. Now, the system will identify military personnel and their families and direct their friends to information from the Veterans Crisis Line when they report content as harmful or suicidal.

As we suggested last week following the news of Facebook’s organ donation initiative, there are increasing opportunities for non-profit organizations to work directly with the social network. The company has implemented a number of features over the years to promote safety, public health and activism among its now more than 900 million members.

Blue Star Families conducted its annual Military Lifestyle Survey and found that 10 percent of military family members have considered suicide and 9 percent of service members have. Since the survey also revealed that 86 percent of respondents used Facebook daily, the social network was uniquely positioned to help the organization.

The Facebook engineering team developed a customized solution to identify military personnel and their families. As a result, people who report these users’ content as harmful or suicidal will receive specific information about crisis services for the military.

Users can report suicidal content here or through “Report” links directly from Timeline, Ticker or News Feed.