Wednesday, December 14, 2011
New Suicide Prevention Hotline on Facebook
Preventing suicide is everyone’s business. Nearly 100 Americans die by suicide every day, and in the past year, more than eight million Americans 18 or older had thought seriously about suicide. Suicide in India is slightly above world rate. Of the half million people reported to die of suicide worldwide every year, 20% are Indians, for 17.% of world population. In the last two decades, the suicide rate has increased from 7.9 to 10.3 per 100,000, with very high rates in some southern regions. Suicide attempts are ten times the suicide completers. A suicide prevention program is only as effective as its ability to reach people in times of crisis.
As members of a family, a school, business, neighborhood, faith communities, friends, and our government, we all need to work together to solve this problem. We simply can no longer allow those we live, work and play with to ever believe that suicide is an acceptable solution even in the worst of times. We have to learn learning about the symptoms of mental illnesses and substance abuse, the warning signs of suicide, how to stand with and support someone who is in crisis, and how to get someone you care about the help they need. Most of all, we need to be open to talking about these issues in our communities. Once we begin to support those in need, and whenever possible treat their mental and substance use disorders with the same urgency as any other health condition, we will reduce the rates of suicide, advance health and improve the use of limited health care dollars.
The popularity of suicides (37.8%) in India are by those below the age of 30 years, and 71% of suicides in India are by persons below the age of 44 years. This imposes a huge social, emotional and economic burden.
Facebook, in partnership with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, has introduced features to encourage its users to confidentially report suicidal comments when and where they’re most likely to see them on Facebook.
The new features, available in the U.S. and Canada as of Tuesday, are the equivalent to a suicide hotline for the Facebook generation, where the old-fashioned dial-in is replaced by a Facebook-click-to-report and chat-based counselor outreach system.
If a Facebook member come across a suicidal message in her stream, she can click on the update to report it or fill out a form. S/he’ll then receive an email from Facebook with a link to begin a confidential chat session with a Lifeline crisis worker. The email response will also include the phone number for the free hotline.
It is reported that average handles 70,000 calls per month are receiving by Lifeline. 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,” Lifeline project director John Draper said. “This new service provides a way for them to get the help they need in the way they want it.”
And when it comes to suicide prevention, being in the right place at the right time is critical. Of course, speed matters too, and this program could drastically accelerate the time between a person’s suicidal comment and potentially life-saving intervention.