Facebook releases new features to help friends who may be suicidal

Amber Cornwell
Hours before Amber Cornwell, 16, of North Carolina killed herself, she posted on her Facebook page, "If I die tonight, would anyone cry?"

According to Daily Mail, one of Cornwell's friends said, "(Bullies) were really mean. They’d say stuff to her face, behind her back. ... They’d message her on Facebook."

Cosmo magazine reports that bullies would tell Cornwell she had no future and she had nothing going for her.

I feel like bullying has grown since the birth of social media. Many people, while hiding behind their computer, will say things they would never say in person.

But now Facebook is fighting back — adding a feature that may save the lives of people like Cornwell. If you see a worrying status by a friend on Facebook, there is now new tools on the social media platform to report this.

Buzz Feed reports that Facebook has teamed up with a number of suicide prevention groups. If you flag a post by a friend, you are given the option to message that friend, ask another friend for support, or chat with a trained helper at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The friend will also receive a pop-up that says, "A friend thinks you might be going through something difficult and asked us to look at your recent post."

Next, the person will be given the options to talk to a friend or helpline worker or get tips and support. They will be able to chat online with a prevention volunteer who is on Facebook at that moment and can also view a video which talks about overcoming the urge to kill oneself.

I think it's great that Facebook is doing this. And it makes me wonder — if this option was available three months ago, when Cornwell died, could this have saved her? Maybe if a friend would have reported her Facebook status, she would have realized that people actually did care about her. She would realize that they would cry if she died.

StoneCrest, a psychiatric service provider in Detroit, released this statement about Facebook's new feature: "The idea behind this new Facebook feature is to be able to improve how they respond to threats of suicide and to be able to provide better information to those in need."

"Furthermore, by providing people with more ways to identify those who are in danger, we can all be more successful at preventing suicide. Suicide is a tragic act, but it can be prevented."

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