Samaritans statement on the international release of Facebook's suicide prevention tool

Samaritans Head of Press & PR, Lynsey Pollard:

“Social media is a tool that some people use to communicate their feelings when life is tough and they’re feeling overwhelmed.  Samaritans provides support to people who are going through a tough time, for whatever reason.  Research shows that social media feeds can be effective indicators of what happens in real life, i.e. those who threaten suicide can often go on to make an attempt at taking their own life, so messages that cause concern shouldn’t be ignored.  This tool offers an opportunity for friends and Facebook to reach out to people who may be struggling and signpost them towards sources of support that they may not have otherwise considered, such as Samaritans.

It’s ok to not hold all the answers to your friend’s problems but showing that you care and that they’re not alone can go a long way. Disrupting someone’s thought processes by reaching out to them, can, in some cases, be life-saving. It can encourage them to talk to someone about what they’re going through and let them know that it’s ok to feel the way they do and to ask for help.

“We don’t think a friend responding to something someone has said publicly, out of concern, is intrusive. We think that the potential benefits of offering support to someone who is struggling, at a crucial time, outweighs any risks.”

For background:

  • Samaritans has been working with Facebook since 2011 to help users of the social network support friends who they think may be struggling to cope emotionally
  • This product was originally developed in the US.  Samaritans has worked with Facebook to tailor some of the language and features to better suit a UK audience.  We also facilitated testing among a group of people in the UK who have reached out for support in the online environment

For further information, please contact Samaritans’ press office on 020 8394 8300 or press@samaritans.org.