Facebook has some new suicide prevention tools in tow, boosting its efforts to curb one of the main causes of death among 15- to 29-year-olds.
The social networking company has been offering suicide prevention tools and features for a long time, but it now wants to rely more on artificial intelligence to double down on its efforts.
According to Facebook's announcement, a suicide occurs every 40 seconds globally. While Facebook has been making efforts toward suicide prevention, it mainly relied on human intervention so far, such as users reporting concerns about their friends, family or some other connections they have on Facebook.
Facebook Suicide Prevention AI-Powered Tools
The company now wants to double down on its suicide prevention efforts and use AI to help its cause. AI can help Facebook recognize patterns based on posts that have been linked to suicide and display more prominent options for users who might want to report a worrisome post.
Moreover, Facebook is also testing pattern-recognition technology designed to automatically detect when a post is "very likely to include thoughts of suicide." If the company's algorithms flag a post, Facebook's Community Operations team can manually look into it even if the post was not reported by anyone. In this case, the user behind the post may get support directly.
Suicide Prevention On Facebook Live
Facebook is also extending its suicide prevention tools to Facebook Live. Users who are watching a concerning live video will be able to contact the person directly, as well as report the live stream to Facebook. The company says it will also offer resources to assist those reporting a video in helping their suicidal friend.
At the same time, the user who is streaming the live video will see a number of resources on their screen. For instance, they can reach out to a help line, seek help from a friend, or see helpful tips on how to get through those desperate moments.
Facebook further encourages users who are in crisis, or know someone who is, to call local emergency services. Users can also get more information on how to help themselves or a friend at Facebook's Help Center. Further widening its reach, Facebook is also rolling out some suicide prevention tools to its Messenger.
"Facebook is in a unique position — through friendships on the site — to help connect a person in distress with people who can support them," says the company.
"Based on feedback from experts, we are testing a streamlined reporting process using pattern recognition in posts previously reported for suicide. This artificial intelligence approach will make the option to report a post about "suicide or self injury" more prominent for potentially concerning posts like these," Facebook adds.
These new AI-powered suicide prevention tools are now in testing in the United States, but there are no details yet as to whether the features will roll out permanently or globally. For now, Facebook is just testing things out to see what is efficient and what is not.