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Facebook's New Suicide Prevention Tools: How You Can Help

When a friend or family member suggests on social media that they are having suicidal thoughts or may be hurting themselves, you want to act. You want to help, but you may not know how. Previously, you could only report these types of posts to Facebook, but new expanded tools will help you reach out to your loved ones in a number of ways.

These new methods include sending them a direct message (complete with pre-suggested wording so you don't stumble for what to say), easy access to crisis counselors for advice, and the more traditional reporting to Facebook. There are also options to help you, including messaging a friend to comfort you after seeing an upsetting message, and easy access to tips on how to cope.

If you are or someone you know are having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Here's how to use Facebook expanded suicide prevention tools: (We're demoing on the iPhone app, but you can follow along on the desktop site, too.)

1. Tap the down arrow in the top right corner of a post that concerns you.

2. Choose "Report this post."

3. Pick "I think it shouldn't be on Facebook."

4. Select "It's threatening, violent or suicidal."

5. Tap "Self-injury or suicide."

6. Pick from the list of options that is most applicable to you and the situation at hand. 

Your options include "Offer help or support," "Reach out to a friend," "Text a trained crisis counselor at Crisis Text Line," "Call Lifeline at 800-273-8265," or "Ask us to look at the post."