March 7, 2011

Support Group Samaritans Launch Facebook Service

Samaritans launched a service on Facebook Monday to help people who express suicidal thoughts on the Internet.

Facebook users who see a friend who has posted status updates or wall posts that suggest they may be contemplating suicide will be able to report them confidentially to the support group through the website's help center.

The charity will then contact the person through email asking if they need help and counseling.

The new service was unveiled just weeks after it emerged that a British charity worker left a suicide note on Facebook, but none of her 1,082 friends on the site responded. 

"Took all my pills be dead soon so bye bye every one," wrote Simone Beck, 42. She died within 24 hours, causing her distraught family to ask why none of her online friends helped her.

"As a friend you are better placed to know whether someone close to you is struggling to cope or even feeling suicidal," Samaritans chief executive Catherine Johnstone said in a statement.

She added: "Facebook is a part of daily life for so many of us and we must make sure that people online have support when they need it."

Samaritans teamed up with Google so when someone in Britain searches online for information about suicide, a red telephone icon with the charity's phone number pops up.


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