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A 42-year-old engineer in Gurgaon on Tuesday posted a photo of his slit wrist, a suicide note, and recorded video on Facebook to inform the world that he was taking his life. In 2015, a young doctor from Delhi posted a suicide note on Facebook before killing herself.

Many people tend to give out advance signals of their intention to commit suicide. With the emergence of social media and users’ willingness to express freely on them, there have been many cases of people baring their stress and depression online, often alerting their friends.

Facebook has tied-up with help groups such as Samaritans and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the US, where users can report a suicide threat or post by anyone. One has to attach a screenshot of the post, mention the URL and the user name of the concerned person at Facebook help page. These service groups then reach out to the user to understand how they feel and reassure them that things can be right again.

In India, Facebook has now made similar tie-ups with non-profit organisations AASRA and the Live Love Laugh Foundation to deliver similar services to Indian users.

Live Love Laugh Foundation is a Bengaluru-based organisation which work on awareness on mental health issues by engaging with organisations and professionals. It is founded and run by Actor Deepika Padukone. AASRA is a Mumbai-based NGO which provides 24-hour support to people with suicidal tendencies.

How it works

If you detect something alarming about a friend’s post, you can report it to these two NGOs directly, or put them on the Facebook help page. At Facebook, special staff will scan the reported incidents and respond by alerting the staff from the NGOs. Facebook claims the monitoring will be active throughout the day everyday in a week, which means you can report any incident any time.

On Facebook, you can access it by going to Settings> Help -> Visit the Help Center -> Safety tools and Resources -> Suicide Prevention -> How do I report Suicidal content to Facebook -> Suicide hotline.

You can also reach out to AASRA directly at 022-27546669 and The Live Love Laugh Foundation at 022-25521111 or email at icall@tiss.edu

One of the issues with social networks is to identify a serious threat from a prank. Often, the message is too subtly put that they are misread. Facebook has launched another campaign called Help a Friend in Need Guide in collaboration with AASRA. This is actually meant to help a Facebook user recognize signs of distress in a post and help them handle the situation on their own.

Guidance will be provided not just in English and Hindi, but in Urdu, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Punjabi and Marathi.

The Gurgaon engineer survived because his Facebook friends spotted the message on time and alerted others who rushed him to a hospital. With its new initiative, Facebook hopes to help more people save lives in a systematic manner.

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