Facebook is offering a way to report a friend's suicidal posting, and get him or her help via instant message. It's not the most direct or energetic way to get help for a terminally depressed pal, but at least it's something.
The new frontier in suicide prevention looks like this: a friend sees suicidal content, clicks "Report," and chooses "suicidal" under "harmful behavior." The suicidal friend then gets an email with a link to an online chat with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, plus a phone number for the same group. "We've heard from many people who say they want to talk to someone but don't want to call," a lifeline director told the Associated Press. "Instant message is perfect for that." While everything helps and it's nice that Facebook is finally trying to address the emotional needs of its users, let's all agree to not let this slacktivist suicide prevention system keep any of us from making a friendly phone call or delivering, like, a nice batch of cookies, okay? Great.
[Image of Facebook's User Operations Safety Team via AP]