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New Facebook feature aims to help prevent suicide

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Posted at 9:45 PM, Apr 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-18 22:35:20-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A new Facebook feature could save lives.

The social media giant partnered with ‘Now Matters Now’ and other national suicide prevention resources to create a new way for people to report posts if they are concerned a "friend" may be suicidal.

“Let's meet people where they are, which is often online in social media, and provide support where they are instead of waiting for them to come forward,” said Kim Myers, a Suicide Prevention Coordinator for the state of Utah.

Myers said reviews of suicide deaths show people often reach out online.

“I see people post things all the time that are a concern to me that I report and reach out to,” said Taryn Aiken, a suicide survivor from Pleasant Grove.

Besides dealing with her own struggles with depression, Aiken found herself face-to-face with a loved one struggling to cope when her dad died by suicide in 2002.

“I vowed, I vowed then and there that I would do everything I could so that no other daughter has to lose their dad, you know," she said.

To report a post that is giving you cause for concern, click the drop down menu in the top right hand corner of the post and select ‘report post’ and follow the prompts. Facebook’s safety team reviews all the posts submitted and may offer help, including online chats with suicide prevention specialists and resources for dealing with emotions.

The program began to roll out in February, hitting about half of the accounts in the U.S. For survivors like Aiken, it’s a chance for everyone, not just those touched by suicide, to make a difference.

“I do think it's a way that we as people, if we have the courage, could absolutely help some people and save some lives by just reaching out personally or again, reporting it so someone else can check in on them and make sure they're OK,” Aiken said.

Click here to visit the website for Now Matters Now.

For more information about suicide prevention resources in Utah, visit Hope4Utah.

If you are having suicidal thoughts or know someone who is struggling, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The hotline is staffed 24/7.