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Facebook launches suicide prevention tools and assistance in India

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In a bid to provide assistance to people suffering from mental issues or extremes of stress or leading to self-injurious or even suicidal thoughts, Facebook has launched a slew of new tools and a bunch of educational resources that were earlier limited to the US, in India.

We all know the importance of social media in our daily life. You can choose to love the fact or hate it, but you simply cant ignore it. Facebook in particular, is privy to some of our innermost thoughts and often we see friends, family or even complete strangers posting about things happening in their lives. Often, it has to do with trivial. day-to-day things, parties, stuff that are making them happy or sad or so on.

However, often the pots are not quite so trivial and are about something that may be somehow disturbing that person. In the most extreme of cases, there have even been instances where people have posted long notes on the social networking website followed very sadly, bu self-injury, attempts to inflict harm on others or themselves, or even suicides. Some of the more notable cases include Kate Von Roeders suicide following a Facebook post.

This is exactly the kind of thing that Facebook with its new move, is hoping to counter. With the help of the new tools, if you see someone on Facebook make a post that makes you worried about their mental condition, or if you believe that their current mind frame may culminate into an attempt at inflicting injury upon themselves, you can reach out to them directly while also reporting the post to Facebook.

Facebook has a bunch of teams spread across the world, working around the clock who will then, review reports that come in and prioritize the most serious reports like self-injury and send help and resources to those in distress. The resources will include the option to reach out to a friend, contact a helpline, or see tips.

Expanding on the topic, Ankhi Das, Public Policy Director, Facebook India, South & Central Asia, said,

Often, friends and family who are the observers in these types of situations don’t know what to do. They’re concerned, but they’re worried about saying the wrong thing or somehow making it worse. Socially, mental illness and thoughts about suicide are just not something we talk about. Facebook is a place where people connect and share, and one of the things we have learnt from the mental health partners and academics we have worked with on this issue, is that being connected is a protective factor in suicide prevention. We care deeply about the safety and well-being of the 148 million people in India who use Facebook to connect with the people who matter to them and recognise there’s an opportunity with these tools and resources to connect someone who is struggling with a person they already have a relationship with.

The tools were first launched in the US with the help of organisations such as Forefront, Lifeline, and In India, the tools are being rolled out in collaboration with AASRA and The Live Love Laugh Foundation and are available in both English and Hindi. The company has also launched a Help A Friend In Need Guidewhich will help people identify when someone is sending out distress signals while also suggesting the steps that should be taken to get help.  The guide is available in various languages including English, Hindi, Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Punjabi, Sinhalese, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and Marathi.

Another great things about these resources is the fact that they have been created with the best possible medical and clinical advice. Meanwhile, Vulnerable users will be encouraged to connect to the AASRA India helpline or the Live Love Laugh Foundation or a friend, or to seek self-help advice from resources and tips provided on how they can work through the bad times.

Speaking on the topic, Deepika Padukone, Founder of The Live Love Laugh Foundation said,

The Live Love Laugh Foundation is committed to reducing stigma and creating awareness around mental health in India. Suicide is a complex issue but the causal relationship between mental health and suicide is well established.The rate of suicide amongst the youth in India is one of the highest in the world.We are happy to partner with Facebook in this suicide prevention initiative. It is especially important to reach out to young people out there who are feeling depressed and encourage them to reach out for help.Society as a whole needs to be educated about this so that we are sensitized to signs of depression in our friends, neighbours and relatives and can guide them towards expert assistance.

According to Johnson Thomas, Director, AASRA, another organisation that is working with Facebook in order to help those in need, said

AASRA has been working with Facebook for several years to help people who are having suicidal thoughts. Facebook’s new tool is another step forward in helping to prevent suicide. We hope that by providing critical resources for people who may be thinking about suicide or self-injury and their concerned friends and family members will help those in need take the first step towards rekindling hope and seeking help at a time when everything seems hopeless and bleak.

Well, kudos to Facebook’s latest move. We hope that with the resources and tools provided by Facebook along with community effort, people globally will be able to help each other through their bad times. And folks, for anyone who is out there actually battling this, speak up and talk to someone, a friend, s family member who understands you or even people from organisations such as Aasra. Not only will you be surprised by how many people are actually willing to listen to you and help you out, you may also find out that things are not quite so dark as you thought they were.

A bibliophile and a business enthusiast.

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