Facebook rolls out suicide prevention tools to Canadians

Starting this week, Canadian users will be able to flag posts where a friend has expressed worrisome thoughts. Handout/Facebook

Facebook has rolled out new tools to support users who may use the social media site to express thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Starting this week, Canadian users will be able to flag posts where a friend has expressed worrisome thoughts.

Now when concerned users click the “Report Post” button – by clicking on the arrow on the top right hand side of a post – Facebook will send a notification to the user who made the post.

When that person logs in next they will receive a notification offering them the option to get in touch with the person who flagged the post, another friend, or contact information for a suicide helpline. In Canada, users will be directed to Kids Help Phone.

“With so many people using social media today, it’s important to help users learn to recognize and act on behalf of friends, family and colleagues who may need help. Facebook reaches millions of users every day and this guide will provide critical mental health information and resources for people in crisis and for their friends and family,” said Dr. Patrick Smith, national CEO, the Canadian Mental Health Association

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“CMHA applauds Facebook for its efforts to create a more supportive online community and for using its platform to turn social networks into true support networks.”

READ MORE: Students walk out of classes after 5 youth suicides in Woodstock, Ont.

Facebook will have teams working around the clock to review any reports that do come in and prioritize the most serious posts, according to a company spokesperson. But, Facebook stresses that these tools are not meant to replace emergency services.

“If someone on Facebook sees a direct threat of suicide, we ask that they contact their local emergency services immediately,” reads a company blog post.

To flag a friend’s post, open on the drop down arrow located at the top right hand side of their status update. Select “Report Post” and then “I don’t think this should be on Facebook.” In the next menu, you will be asked to describe why you are flagging the post. Select “It’s threatening, violent, or suicidal.”

Once you have reported the post, Facebook will allow you to reach out directly to your friend, chat with a trained mental health helper, or ask Facebook’s team to look at the post. No matter which option you choose, Facebook will notify the user regarding their post and offer them support resources.

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The feature rolled out to U.S. users last year, but was only rolled out globally this week.