September 18, 2014
Guest blogpost by Emil Valdelin, Policy Manager of Facebook Brussels, on the occasion of the World Suicide Prevention Day.
Making the Internet a safer place takes many different shapes and forms.
With young people at the forefront of the technological revolution, spending increasing amounts o
f time online, their digital behavior is crucial to foresee distress. Studies have shown that connectedness is essential to people who may be at risk of suicide, and social media is becoming the place where they turn to seek support in times of need. Reaching out could be a lifesaving act.
If a friend of yours is in trouble, you instinctively know what to do. But what happens when the red flags are embedded in our digital footprint? A series of songs, a photo, a video, an overused emoticon … Signs can be anywhere in our online or offline worlds if you know how to spot them.
When it comes to raising awareness and educating younger generations on esafety, there is never a single solution. It is not about offline or online it’s about making the best of what we have got in both worlds.
This week the European Commission joined Facebook for the launch of ‘Help a Friend in Need’, a guide for young people, friends and family members to help identify when someone is showing signs of distress online, and provide them with the next steps to take, particularly when someone’s life could be in danger.
At European level, there are already many measures in place to protect and ensure the safety and wellbeing of young people. For example, the European Commission launched in 2008 the European Pact for Mental Health and Well-being . Since then several initiatives have been put in place from the regulatory environment to concrete approaches, focusing on the workplace and schools, and developing actions against depression and suicide.
Information and education play a crucial role helping people when they are in need. Whilst the factors which lead to someone feeling suicidal are highly complex, at Facebook we have a role to play. Starting by giving people ways to make a report and reach out if they, or a friend, is in distress. For instance, we have a system to ensure that suicidal content reports are monitored and reviewed regularly. Such reports are of the highest priority for us and if we suspect that someone is at risk, then we provide people with the right resources.
We are here to provide the tools that act as a bridge to help us all make the Internet a safer place. Esafety goes beyond a guide, it is about understanding, educating and empowering the new generations of internet users to report and react.Blogactiv Team