Yesterday, Facebook announced a rollout of new features that will allow users to connect directly with the Trevor Project — a national 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth. The features will work as part of Facebook’s suicide prevention tools and will become available to more users over the next several months.
Currently, Facebook’s suicide prevention tools allow people to report any friends who make posts expressing suicidal ideation or self-harm. In response, Facebook encourages reporters to reach out to the troubled friend, send a message to a mutual friend, read tips from suicide prevention experts or ask the Facebook team to examine the content so that they can send additional resources.
If Facebook’s team of suicide experts agrees that the post’s content is worrisome, they’ll send links and resources to both the reporter and their friend.
Facebook will incorporate The Trevor Project into its suicide prevention tools first by giving people who report posts the option to send their friend The Trevor Project’s phone number. Eventually Facebook hopes to allow those in need to chat directly in real time with The Trevor Project’s trained crisis and mental health support volunteers.
Facebook already has similar partnerships with the Crisis Text Line, National Eating Disorders Association and Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Facebook users can chat directly with all three organizations using the website’s desktop messaging feature and Messenger mobile app.
In a statement about the new features, David W. Bond, Vice President of Programs at The Trevor Project said:
“The Trevor Project is constantly seeking to increase access to care for LGBTQ young people in crisis. This new partnership with Facebook will enable even more people to reach our digital crisis counselors from a platform they are comfortable and familiar with. We are thrilled to be better equipped to meet these young people where they are.”
In 2015, The Trevor Project helped over 200,000 LGBTQ youth through their different suicide prevention programs.
As with most of its new features, Facebook will gradually make these tools available to larger numbers of users as a way of testing the technology and ensuring that The Trevor Project doesn’t find itself suddenly overwhelmed with too many inquiries all at once.
Facebook announced the program in observance of May as U.S. Mental Health Awareness Month.
(Image by ljubaphoto via iStock Photography)
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