Facebook develops new suicide prevention feature for UK users
Facebook’s logo reflected in the eyeglasses of a user Getty Images

Facebook has developed a new suicide prevention tool for its UK users. The tech giant collaborated with the Samaritans to develop a tool that would provide support and advice to those who may be at risk of harming themselves.

Facebook's new feature is set to roll out soon in the UK. The feature has already been made available to users in the US and Australia and has also been tested for effectiveness. The suicide prevention feature offers support not only to those struggling to cope but also to friends and family.

Facebook's safety policy manager Julie de Bailliencourt said, "We have a really strong sense of responsibility towards the safety of people who are on our platform. We felt that while we've been working with the Samaritans for a number of years, we wanted to take this partnership to a whole new level."

Ruth Sutherland, CEO of Samaritans said: "If people can start to talk about the unbearable pain that they're facing, we can interrupt that journey towards suicide. Suicide is not inevitable, it is preventable. This tools plays a really vital role in achieving that," the BBC reported.

Facebook's new suicide prevention feature allows users the option of reporting troubling content to the Facebook team, who will then reach out to the concerned user asking them if they need support from either a helpline or a friend. The feature will also provide users with helpful suggestions on how best to handle suicidal thoughts. Users reporting explicit suicidal content will be provided contact information for emergency services. However, less obvious threats perceived will be handled by Facebook's team.

According to Facebook, the feature has been designed specifically to encourage users to reach out and connect with other people. Consequently, whenever a user has been flagged by either a friend or family, the next time he/she logs in, Facebook will show them a message – "a friend thinks you might be going through something difficult and asked us to look at your recent post", the Independent reported.

Facebook has not yet confirmed when the feature is expected to be rolled out to users in the UK.