Samaritans and Facebook create ‘Help a Friend in Need’ to prevent suicide and save lives

EDINBURGH, 12-9-2014 — /EuropaWire/ — Today (10th September 2014) is National Suicide Prevention Day, a date which brings together individuals and organisations from around the world with an interest in suicide prevention to reach out and save lives.

Every year more than 800,000 people die from suicide across the world, making it the 15thmost common cause of death in 2012, according to the International Society for Suicide Prevention.

Whilst September may be National Suicide Prevention Month, it’s also the time of year that brings along change for many people. These moments can be hard, managing new pressures, meeting new people and adjusting to new routines.

On average around 500 people per year lose their lives to suicide in the Republic of Ireland alone. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Samaritans to create ‘Help a Friend in Need’, a guide for people to help identify when one of their friends may be struggling to cope online. The guide also offers suggestions on how to approach their friend, what to say, how to react and what to avoid. It gives people the skills to reach out without fear of making the situation worse.

At Facebook, we work hard to make sure that people can connect with the people and resources they need, particularly during stressful times.   People can report suicidal content from a post by clicking on the upper-right corner and following the prompts.  Our team personally reviews these reports 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and provides those in need with resources in their local language from one of our 33 global suicide prevention partners. To learn more about suicide prevention on Facebook, please visit our safety centre:

Sonia Flynn, Managing Director, Facebook Ireland, said:

“Studies have shown that connectedness is crucial to people who may be at risk of suicide – reaching out and offering people support can be a life-saving act.

“We created Help A Friend In Need because we want to make sure that friends and family have the resources to help identify when someone is distressed and know what steps to take, particularly in extreme cases where someone’s life might be in danger.”

Catherine Johnstone, Chief Executive of Samaritans, said:

“We know that people are spending an increasing amount of their lives online and it’s often a place where they turn when they are going through a difficult time. Knowing what signs to look out for on Facebook, or anywhere else online, can have a real impact in helping to support those you might be worried about.

“It’s important that we continue to develop the work we do with organisations like Facebook, which is we are pleased to partner with them on this practical guide.”



The guide is available at Facebook’s Family Safety Centre as well as on the Website and Samaritans Facebook page. It will also be featured in new ads on Facebook geared towards young people throughout September.

To download a copy of the guide please visit:

For more information about the work of Samaritans please visit:

Facebook’s work with Samaritans

  • Facebook and Samaritans have collaborated on a suicide prevention feature within Facebook’s reporting tools since 2011.
  • If a person on Facebook thinks a friend is in need of support, then they can use a form in Facebook’s Help Centre to flag their concern to Facebook or report their concern via the reporting links found across Facebook’s site.
  • Reports to Facebook are triaged and those reported that where someone may be at risk are prioritised.
  • If someone is reported to us, as at risk of suicide, Facebook’s safety team will look at their account. If they consider that a person is at risk of immediate harm then we may, in very rare cases, alert local police.
  • If we don’t consider that someone is at immediate risk but is showing signs of distress then we will interrupt their Facebook experience. At this time we will send them a message to say that a friend has flagged that they may be in crisis and offer them information about how to get help via Samaritans.
  • Links to further information from Samaritans is available in the Facebook help centre:


Media contact:
Rachel Wright, Samaritans
085 860 5554


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