Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

Facebook is using AI to help people who may be considering suicide

It's one of the latest updates to Facebook's suicide prevention tools.

Facebook is making some changes in hopes of helping more people who may be considering suicide.

Facebook has had suicide prevention tools for a decade, and on Wednesday it updated these to make it easier for the online community to help each other.

"Preventing suicide is complicated, but experts say one of the best ways to help is if someone who is in distress hears from people who care about them," Mark Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook to announce the updates to the website's suicide prevention tools

Today we're introducing updated tools and resources for people who may be contemplating suicide, as well as the support we offer to their concerned friends and family members. Now our suicide prevention tools for Facebook posts will be available on Live videos in real time. People watching will have the option to reach out to the person directly and also report the stream to us. We also provide additional resources to assist that person in helping their friend. The person using Live will see a set of options as they are streaming. They can now choose to reach out to a friend, contact a helpline or see tips. Experts say that the best way to prevent suicide is for those in distress to hear from people who care about them. We are also launching a campaign with partners around the world to raise awareness and encourage people to reach out if they see a friend is in distress. When friends are in need, reaching out can make a difference.

Posted by Facebook Safety on Wednesday, March 1, 2017

One new thing Facebook is testing is using artificial intelligence to help spot people who may be struggling.

This system looks for patterns in posts that have been reported for suicide risk. Using that pattern, Facebook will identify posts that seem concerning, and make the option for people to report the post for "suicide or self injury" more prominent.

Then, when a user clicks the option on their friend's post, Facebook will reach out to the poster with resources.

But AI will go further than that. Facebook is testing a pattern recognition that would identify posts as "very likely" to include thoughts of suicide. A member of the Facebook team will review the post, and if it makes sense, will provide suicide-prevention resources to the poster – even if no one has reported the post for a potential suicide risk.

Other steps Facebook is taking in suicide prevention include:

  • Adding suicide-prevention tools to Facebook live. Now, if you're watching a live video it will give you the option to reach out to the person sharing the video – and Facebook will give you resources to help you help them. The person who is sharing the video will also see resources on their screen. (USA Today reports there are at least seven instances in which someone has live streamed their suicide – although not all of them happened on Facebook.)
  • Facebook is also making it easier to live chat with someone from a crisis support organization through Messenger. The option will be available on organizations' Facebook pages, as well as through Facebook's suicide prevention tools.

“It’s important that community members, whether they’re online or offline, don’t feel that they are helpless bystanders when dangerous behavior is occurring,” Dr. John Draper, director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, said in a statement. “Facebook’s approach is unique. Their tools enable their community members to actively care, provide support, and report concerns when necessary.”

Suicide in Minnesota

The annual rate of suicide has been trending upward both in Minnesota and nationallyaccording to the Minnesota Department of Health.

In 2015, there were 726 suicide deaths in Minnesota, the health department’s most recent data shows. That’s a 6 percent increase from the 686 Minnesotans who died by suicide in 2014.

That increase was driven by the number of men who took their own life, with the health department noting half of the increase in suicides happened among white men ages 25-34.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Next Up

Eric Kendricks

Vikings-Steelers: 5 things you can count on

After an embarrassing loss to the Lions, can the Vikings get it together?

snow, snowing

Winter storm watch expands north, includes parts of Twin Cities

Everyone in southern Minnesota will want to keep an eye on forecast changes.

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

5-year-old boy fatally shot on Thanksgiving identified

Police said a few juveniles at the home were making a social media video when the gun went off.

PAMP travail 1

Pig Ate My Pizza will close at the end of the year.

Its leaders plan to relaunch and "get back to the humble beginnings of Travail."

flickr - criticla care nurses nov 2021

Allina parts ways with 53 of 27,000 employees over vaccine mandate

That's about 0.2% of the health care system's workforce.

US Bank Stadium, Vikings fans

Matthew Coller: How will Vikings fans react on Thursday night?

Will years of disappointment be revealed if the Vikings struggle against the Steelers?

dinner party holidays gathering celebration 1

Health officials encourage getting vaccinated and tested before the holidays

The state has launched a "Celebrate Safely, Minnesota" campaign to make it easier to get tested and vaccinated.

Kjellberg booking photo crop

Charges: Parking dispute, scuffle preceded fatal stabbing

The suspect said he was upset about neighbors and their friends regularly parking on his property.

Dave Hutchinson

Hennepin Co. Sheriff injured in rollover, admits to drinking beforehand

The sheriff, in a statement, called it an "inexcusable decision."

CDC - vaccine band aid

COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in MN dominated by unvaccinated

The latest figures from October show a disproportionate number of deaths among the unvaccinated.

Jaxon Howard

Top MN football recruit Jaxon Howard to announce college decision

He's the son of former Minnesota Viking Willie Howard.

18 wheeler - tractor trailer - semi truck

MN trucking firm that used 'strength tests' to screen out women drivers to pay $500K

The company will pay $500,000 and offer jobs to the women it discriminated against.

Related

Instagram has a new tool to stop self-harm and suicide

Instagram now provides resources to people struggling with depression and destructive behavior.

Facebook blames a 'tiny group' of users for lots of obnoxious spam

Here's what Facebook says it's doing so you see it less.

Facebook blames a 'tiny group' of users for lots of obnoxious spam

Here's what Facebook says it's doing so you see it less.

How to turn on the rainbow flag Facebook reaction

It isn't automatic – you have to do something to turn it on.

Facebook is trying to make fewer crappy links show up on your feed

You know the ones – where the page you go to is full of an absurd number of ads.