Finally, something good and non-time wasting to come out of Facebook. Tuesday, the social networking site teamed up with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to put users who post anything that could be deemed as a suicidal thought in immediate touch with a crisis counselor via their instant messaging system.
The side doesn't catch and report suicidal postings on its own, but instead allows friends of the user to address the behavior by clicking the report option, which is next to any piece of content on the site, and choosing "suicidal content" under the "harmful behavior" tab.
Great. Perfect. Really good idea, Zuckerberg. After all, such postings are ultimately a cry for help. Having a crisis center contact them may be just the thing these people need.
People who post suicidal thoughts or harmful behavior anywhere on the Internet probably are too scared, ashamed, whatever to get in touch with someone who can actually help -- which is why they're making these declarations in a public forum. They want help, but they can't actually bring themselves to get it. I.E., they're hoping someone will bring it to them.
Having a crisis center on hand not only can help those in dark places get better -- it can actually prevent suicides and other crimes. Take Bart Heller, the man who killed his ex-girlfriend and her friend, before killing himself recently. Before everything went down, Heller posted an ominous message on Facebook. If the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline partnership had been implemented at that point, who knows? The crimes may have been prevented.
No need to tell you that the Internet is a massive, unregulated, post-apocalyptic wasteland that's often used irresponsibly. Having something like this on one of the biggest websites out there -- well, it just makes things feel a little safer.
Do you think this is a good idea?
Image via jeroen_bennink/Flickr