Facebook Launches Customized Suicide-Prevention Services For U.S. Military, Families

By David Cohen 

Facebook already provides suicide-prevention services, but the social network announced a special initiative targeting the U.S. military and its families, teaming up with Blue Star Families and the Department of Veterans Affairs to offer customized services to veterans, active-duty military-service members, and their families.

The Facebook engineering team developed a customized solution to help identify military families and personnel and offer them specific information if friends or family members report any of their content on the social network as harmful or suicidal, including information on The Veterans Crisis Line, which provides access to Department of Veterans Affairs responders via phone, online chat, or text messaging,

Blue Star Families said two key results from its third annual Military Lifestyle Survey fueled its partnership with Facebook:

  • 86 percent of military families on Facebook said they access the social network daily.
  • The percentage of military family members who have considered suicide (10 percent) is almost equal to the percentage of service members who have considered suicide (9 percent).

The U.S. Military on Facebook page will host a live conversation Thursday at 3 p.m. ET, featuring representatives from Blue Star Families, Facebook, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Wounded Warrior Project. Advance questions and comments will be accepted on the event wall.

The panel will be moderated by Facebook Vice President of U.S. Public Policy Joel Kaplan, and guest panelists are scheduled to include:

  • Blue Star Families Director of Research and Policy Vivian Greentree, a co-founder of the organization, Navy veteran, and military spouse.
  • Department of Veterans Affairs Psychologist Caitlin Thompson.
  • Denise Hamlin-Glover, senior manager of the Combat Stress Recovery Program at the Wounded Warrior Project.

Blue Star Families offered more details in a blog post:

Facebook has already provided suicide-prevention services, but it did not have automatic customized services for veterans, active-duty military spouses, and their families. For example, friends can report suicidal content, which triggers an email to the poster, providing him/her with a note that includes support information from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

While this is helpful for a military family, there are several specific resources provided to our nation’s military that we wanted to make sure they were aware of at their time of need. The Facebook engineering team worked on a customized solution that could help to identify military families and military personnel, ensuring that family members could send critical military-related counseling information to their soldiers.

Today, we, along with Facebook and the Department of Veterans Affairs, are proud to announce that the Facebook military crisis content is live. As a result, friends and families with concerns about veterans, active-duty service members, and military family members will receive specific information about crisis services for our nation’s military, including The Veterans Crisis Line. The Veterans Crisis line connects veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders via phone, online chat, or text messaging.

This is just one way to help our nation’s military families in their time of need. However, we believe that the Facebook platform, which is used on a daily basis by so many of our families, will be a critical means of helping our military community live long, healthy, and successful lives after they have sacrificed so much for our safety and way of life.