In news that has provoked deep introspection way too early in the morning, Facebook has launched a new suicide prevention tool that will give users a direct link to online counselors. The feature will also allow Facebook users to proactively respond to troublesome site activity.
The tool allows users to report their friends' seemingly suicidal behavior by clicking a report button next the content in question and selecting the "harmful behavior" option. The company will then touch base with the distressed user and share various prevention resources (including an online chat with live counselors). The help will be extended anonymously — the contacted user will never know who flagged the content. The worried friend also receives a message, reassuring them that the activity is being addressed.
Facebook spokesperson Frederic Wolens said that the new tool is a "natural progression" from work the company has been doing "for a long time." The reporting feature will be made available to users in the United States and Canada. (What are you implying, Facebook? Are democracy and the Maple Leafs not enough!?)
Frankly, I think the feature is a move in the right direction. We live in an isolating society (…thanks in part to websites like Facebook) in which it's taboo to bring up issues of mental health. I'm willing to support anything that helps someone feel less alone. With that said, I would like my own Facebook friends to know that despite anything my mom might write on my wall (stop writing on my wall, Mom), I am not depressed. Yes, I am single and yes, I like cats, and yes, I may have spent last Saturday night in bed, crying while watching Bridget Jones' Diary over and over again, but these aren't warning signs of anything other than a lengthening sexual dry spell. Since when are those things a crime or worthy of Facebook intervention? Leave me to my Bright Eyes and tater tots. Thank you.