Suicide Rising. Can Facebook Help?


Suicide is on the rise. In Massachusetts, a teen was charged with urging her friend to commit suicide. She was conversing with him until the time he died. He expressed that he was scared, but the teen friend strongly influenced him to carry out his plan. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

That teen friend guided him through the suicide process. After he died, she used social media to express her love for him and organized a fundraiser in his name. That teen friend was arraigned but she made bail of $2,500. She was restricted from using the Internet for anything except school work, refrain from social media, and use text messaging only to converse with her parents.

Adults between the ages of 40 and 64 are committing suicide more often in recent years. It has been documented that suicide for this age has increased since 2007 in the U. S. due to economic problems. A study calculated a 37.5 percent suicide rate.

It is evident that suicide rates rise when economic conditions are stressful and it falls when economic conditions are positive. For the purpose of this study’s focus to determine the cause, the participants were males ages 25 and 64.

When studies are conducted, a number of factors are considered: finances, a job, and legal issues. The most common factor related to suicide among those 40 to 64 years of age has to do with mental health concerns and personal circumstances such as partner relationships.

When studying suicide, a database can categorize the conditions that are major contributions for this act of personal violence: external factors identified as career or legal issues, personal factors, those that might be concerned with health and the state of mind, and interpersonal aspects that address relationships with others.

The interpersonal issues, those related to intimate partners, were evident as a strong male factor. The external factors were, also, more male oriented with a 39.1 percent rate to a 22.8 percent rate for women. When suicide is eminent, posting a Facebook message is common. A 16-year-old male posted a note to his friends. He told them of his plan and asked them to support his mother, ex-girlfriend, and son.

Facebook has partnered with the Innovations in Suicide Prevention at the University of Washington and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. On Friday, February 25, 2015, Facebook placed an online tool so that a person who announces suicidal intentions can be reported. This tool will request that if a message appears on the Internet of someone contemplating suicide, immediately contact  a local emergency service. The Facebook specialist team will be available 24/7.

The ” keeping you safe” campaign is designed to send a message when that person goes to their Facebook account. If the Facebook team thinks the person is at risk, they will send two messages. The first message will let the person know that a friend is caring about them and the second message will tell the person that support is available. Facebook will suggest to reach out to a friend or use the help-line worker.

There are some concerns whether Facebook should be addressing such a serious issue. False reports and confidentiality are a few of the concerns.

By Marie A. Wakefield





Photo by epSos .de – License

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