Facebook Helps Veterans, Military Families Prevent Suicide

The new service will augment Facebook's existing self-harm safeguards available to all users. 

Posted: 05/09/2012 01:17 PM EDT

With a staggering 800 million active users sharing all manner of intimate details about their lives, Facebook is taking the opportunity to do more than provide users with updates on the latest lunch selections of friends and family — they’re saving lives. In an effort to augment the social media hub’s existing suicide prevention tools available to all users, Facebook is rolling out additional assistance for military families, active service members and veterans who may be in need of help.

The military extension to Facebook’s self-harm outreach will allow military families to send critical military-related counseling information to their soldiers. The service comes as the result of a partnership between Facebook and the military support group Blue Star Families. Facebook’s original self-harm prevention service, launched in December, connected people at risk to a counselor via instant message or email after a friend flagged a comment or activity as potentially harmful.

According to the U.S. Defense Department, “nearly 213,000 military members have suffered brain injuries since 2000 and that about 3,000 veterans who were assigned to conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq suffered major depression or [post-traumatic stress disorder] PTSD.”


Recent reports also show that large numbers of African-American women soldiers suffer from PTSD as a result of their military service.  


Data from Facebook shows that 11 percent of all users are African-American, a number that closely mirrors the percentage of total African-Americans in the U.S.


Earlier this month, Facebook also began allowing users in the United States and the United Kingdom to identify themselves as organ donors on the site and also made it possible for non-donors to easily register with just the click of a mouse. 

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(Photo: Zohra Bensemra/Reuters)

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