New York State has a suicide rate of eight deaths for every 100,000 people. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the state has a population of about 19.75 million. This means that every year, about 1,580 people commit suicide in New York State.
Now, those suffering and contemplating the unthinkable can get help from a surprising place: Facebook.
In February, the social network announced a new suicide prevention feature, which makes the process of reporting suicidal content (a feature available since 2011) easier, and also provides those who may potentially hurt themselves with ways to take action.
“The updated resources are currently available to 50 percent of people who use Facebook in the U.S.,” Andrew Souvall, a rep with Facebook, told the Huffington Post. “We hope to expand to all Facebook users in the U.S. in the coming months.”
When a user spots suicidal content, they have the option to either contact that friend, another friend, or a suicide helpline. Facebook will then notify the reported user that they have a friend who’s concerned about them, and will then ask if they’d like to call someone or message a suicide prevention expert.
The social network boasts more than 1.15 billion users across the world, and more than 10.6 million users in New York State. All data considered, the new feature should be able to help more than 800 users in New York state.
Additionally, Facebook also provides videos from those who have contemplated suicide, provides information on relaxation techniques, and even offers to help users find self-care experts. The options come as the result of Facebook partnering with suicide prevention networks such as Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention, Now Matters Now, Save.org, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
“If this initiative helps even one person take a different course than ending his or her life, it will be important and meaningful,” Gregory W. Dalack, a member of the University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry, told the Huffington Post. “Resources and support are available to help those struggling and in desperate distress. Kudos to Facebook for taking this step to facilitate connections to those resources.”