Facebook tackles issue of teen suicide

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — At Lines for Life in Portland, a special youthline is staffed by trained teens to deal with the increase in suicides among young people.

About 13,000 calls each year are made to the Portland prevention line. The suicide rate around the country is so high Facebook is using its social media muscle to try and help.

The Youthline at Lines for Life in Portland, July 2016 (KOIN)

Facebook users worldwide are able to report a suicidal comment posted by a friend using a special link. They’re told to first contact law enforcement if the threat is immediate, but they also have the ability to send their friend a Direct Message — with Facebook offering suggestions on what to say.

Lines for Life Youthline: 877.968.8491National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800.273.8255

Crisis Text Line – text “help” to 741-741

Facebook will also send a confidential message to the person in crisis that says, “Someone who saw your post thinks you might be going through a difficult time. If you want support, we’d like to help.”

The person will be urged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1.800.273.8255) or merely click a link and start talking with a crisis counselor.

Some people think this is an invasion of privacy, but the staff at Lines for Life disagrees.

An example of a Facebook message sent to someone possibly experiencing a crisis (KOIN)

Suicide rates are at a 30-year high, and more people die from suicide than breast cancer, car accidents and homicide.

There are plenty of reasons, officials say. There’s the stigma of getting help which lead to not asking for help.

The stress of everyday life is a factor. And with teens, social media can do more harm than good over the issue of bullying.

It isn’t always easy to know when someone is just airing frustrations or is really suicidal.

There are many groups that help people having suicidal thoughts, including the Crisis Text Line. It provides free assistance to anyone who texts “Help” to 741-741.

An example of a Facebook message sent to someone possibly experiencing a crisis (KOIN)

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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