Facebook Posts Provide Insight into Suicidal Mindsets

By Rich Steeves January 24, 2013

Facebook is good for a lot of things. It helps us connect with friends and loved ones who live far away. It gives us a chance to network with other professionals. It allows us to follow our favorite products, play games and waste a little time when we are bored. But there is a darker side to Facebook as well. Many people who use the social networking site feel “Facebook envy,” comparing their lives to others and experiencing sadness, frustration and anger. And, for people who are genuinely troubled, Facebook can be an outlet for negative thoughts, feelings and emotions. Facebook posts have, for some, replaced the suicide note as a final message to the world.

Loved ones of people who commit suicide often state that they did not see the warning signs ahead of time, or they chose to ignore or justify those signs. It adds an extra layer of tragedy to an already sad, awful event. But in this era of social media, where we can seemingly use technology to solve every problem from tracking vehicles to performing surgery, there are those who feel that we can leverage the power of Facebook to intervene in the lives of depressed and hopeless people before they take their own lives.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Researchers at the suicide prevention group SAVE.org is using information from the social media site to gain insight into how individuals with suicidal ideation behave prior to taking their own lives. The Executive Director of Save, Dan Reidenberg, hopes that this information will help loved ones better identify warning signs to intervene in the lives of people who are considering committing suicide.

“Friends sometimes don’t ask important questions for fear of being invasive,” Reidenberg, who also serves on the National Council for Suicide Prevention, told Bloomberg. “If we can see what’s happening, we can train people to look for it.”

Of course, Facebook is not the only venue to look at when seeking insight into the minds of suicidal individuals. Twitter and Google are also working to address this tragic and very real concern. Twitter representatives say that the company is open to participating in a study similar to the Facebook/Save initiative, and Google has designed its search engine to bring up the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline when anyone searches for suicide-related terms.

“Anything that can decrease the latency between someone needing help and getting help is beneficial,” Frederic Wolens, a spokesman for Facebook, told Bloomberg. “We’re trying to really shorten that period of time, whether it’s Facebook intervening, or that person’s friends or suicide prevention organizations.”

Edited by Jamie Epstein

TechZone360 Web Editor

Related Articles

Autonomous Car Technology Takes New Leap Forward With Ford, Uber

By: Larry Alton    11/24/2015

The age of the self-driving car is nearly upon us, or at least that's what major technology and automotive companies are hoping. There have been major…

Read More

Unusual but Fun Tech Ideas for 2015

By: Rob Enderle    11/24/2015

Well, it's the week of the big sales, and many of us are planning to buy that special someone a special something. I figured I'd join my peers and poi…

Read More

Locus Telecommunications is Challenging the FCC's Authority, Claiming Due Process Violations

By: Special Guest    11/24/2015

One of a handful of prepaid calling card companies slapped with a $5 million fine by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) for its…

Read More

Kaspersky: Three Out of Four Users Have Trouble Spotting Big Threats

By: Steve Anderson    11/23/2015

We all know that spending on cybersecurity has been on the rise lately, as everyone from major corporations to military groups ramp up their cyberdefe…

Read More

Don't Just Hope for a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving-Make It Happen

By: Steve Anderson    11/23/2015

It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is this week. With people planning to hit the roads in massive numbers and head home for the holidays, memories…

Read More