A new Facebook program provides military personnel, veterans and their families with customized resources when their content is flagged as harmful or suicidal.
It is an extension of a suicide prevention effort Facebook launched in December, which lets friends alert the social network when other users express suicidal thoughts by clicking a link next to the comment. Facebook sends an email to the author of the comment that contains a number for a suicide prevention hotline and a link that launches a Facebook chat with a counselor.
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"While this is helpful for a military family, there are several specific resources provided to our nation’s military that we wanted to make sure they were aware of at their time of need," military support organization Blue Star Families, which along with the Department of Veterans Affairs partnered with Facebook for the effort, wrote in a statement.
Facebook engineers developed a way to help identify military members and their families, and it will now send them military specific resources such as The Veterans Crisis Line when their content is flagged.
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In a survey of 2,891 military family members by Blue Star Families, about 10% said they had considered suicide and 9% said they knew a service member who had contemplated suicide.
When they were asked what military leaders should do concerning the issue, the most common response (23%) cited the need to eradicate the stigma that still surrounds seeking mental health support or counseling.
"Indeed, many comments mentioned leaders telling military members to 'suck it up,' or 'soldier up,'" write the authors of the study.
With 86% of military families on Facebook saying they use the service daily, it makes sense for the network to serve as a private referrer to military-focused suicide prevention resources.
This story originally published on Mashable here.