Facebook has been working to make users feel safer on the platform for years, and in its latest effort to enhance the online community, the social media platform partnered with The Trevor Project, an organization dedicated to suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth.
On Tuesday — in the middle of Mental Health Awareness month — Facebook announced that users will be able to connect with mental health resources from The Trevor Project right from their direct messages. The project rolls out over the next few months.
According to The Trevor Project's website, the rate of suicide attempts is "four times greater for LGB youth and two times greater for questioning youth than that of straight youth," so it's clear how helpful access to a supportive chat bot could be. And though The Trevor Project is aimed at helping suicide prevention in young people, the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 40 percent of transgender adult respondents reportedly made a suicide attempt during their lives, so Facebook users of all ages could certainly benefit from the helpful resource.
The messenger crisis support will also expand awareness to other areas of the mental heath community with the help of participating organizations like , the , and the .
The social media site recently received a great deal of backlash surrounding the spread of live-streamed suicide videos and earlier this month — after a violent video of a Cleveland man shooting and killing a 74-year-old man was posted to the site — founder Mark Zuckerberg admitted more human intervention is necessary on the site to ensure the safety of users.
The site also collaborated with mental health organizations back in 2016 to launch tools and resources aimed at supporting the mental health community. Users now have easily accessible support groups along with the ability to report concerning posts related to self-injury or suicide directly to Facebook.
Back in March the site was even testing a pattern recognition system that would use AI to identify posts that include certain keywords pertaining to suicidal thoughts.
Studies have shown that excessive social media us could increase levels of depression, so the more resources the better.
If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For international resources, this list is a good place to start.