Facebook Teams Up With Samaritans to Prevent Suicide

Whether it's because they're looking for an outlet to vent pent-up frustrations or because they see -- and treat -- the social network like a big brother in which they can confide troubling emotions, many people demonstrate worrisome behavior on Facebook. Now the website has teamed up with U.K.-based Samaritans, a group that is focused on suicide prevention, so that users across the U.K. can easily report this behavior when they come across it.

"Through the popularity of Facebook, we are harnessing the power of friendship so people can get help. As a friend you are better placed to know whether someone close to you is struggling to cope or even feeling suicidal," Chief Executive of Samaritans Catherine Johnstone said in the press release. "We want to remind people that if a friend says that life isn't worth living, they should always be taken seriously. Facebook is a part of daily life for so many of us and we must make sure that people online have support when they need it."

Facebook will decide whether to alert authorities or have Samaritans contact the owner of the profile in question if another user contacts them with concerns. The URL of the comment in question, full name of the user and any details about the networks they belong to are necessary to file a report to prevent hoaxes. While Samaritans operates in the U.K., it is part of an international organization called Befrienders Worldwide, suggesting that this program could be extended internationally. In the U.S., users who report questionable posts are encouraged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and when appropriate, Facebook contacts Lifeline, and they forward the information to the appropriate local suicide prevention center.

Read the full story at Time's Techland.