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Facebook Launches Service to Help Prevent Suicide
Date:12/14/2011

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Facebook is using its social-networking prowess to help prevent suicides in the United States and Canada.

The site is launching a service that will allow users to report a suicidal comment they see posted on Facebook using either a special "Report Suicidal Content" link or on the report links throughout the site. The person who posted the worrisome comment will immediately receive an email from Facebook encouraging them to call the toll-free U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or to click on a chat session with a crisis worker.

Both options are available 24/7 and provide free, confidential counseling to anyone in need.

The Lifeline, which has answered more than 3 million calls since it was launched in 2005, is funded by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and administered by Link2Health Solutions, a subsidiary of the Mental Health Association of New York City (MHA-NYC).

Currently, the Lifeline already responds to dozens of people each day who have expressed suicidal thoughts on Facebook, according to a SAMHSA news release.

John Draper, the Lifeline's project director and vice president of crisis and behavioral health technology at MHA-NYC, said in the SAMHSA release that, "We have been partnering with Facebook since 2006 to assist at-risk users and are thrilled to launch this new service."

And according to Associated Press, lives have already been saved in this way: In July, for example, police intervened to help prevent a man from killing himself after a friend living in California alerted them to distressing postings on Facebook.

"Although the Lifeline on average handles 70,000 calls per month, we have heard from our Facebook fans and others that there are many people in crisis who don't feel comfortable picking up the phone. This new service provides a way for them to get the help t
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