For many members of military families, social media serve as a lifeline, connecting them to various supportive communities to help them cope with their specific strains and stresses. So, in conjunction with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the nonprofit organization Blue Star Families, Facebook has unveiled a literal lifeline within the site, with informational and response tools customized for service members and their families.
In a recent survey of 4,000 military families, Blue Star Families discovered that more than 90% of those who responded reported some type of use of Facebook, and 86% of them said they were on the social networking site daily.
The survey also highlighted that the percentage of military family members who have pondered suicide is nearly equal to that of service members with suicidal thoughts.
Facebook already provides suicide-prevention services. Friends on Facebook can already report suicidal content by using the “Report Suicidal Content” link, which triggers an email to the poster, providing that person a note with information from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The form also urges users who have encountered a direct threat of suicide on Facebook to immediately contact law enforcement or a suicide hotline.
Now, Facebook has engineered a customized offering so that those connected to veterans, active-duty service members and military family members will get specific information about crisis services tailored to the military, including the Veterans Crisis Line, which can respond over the phone, in an online chat or in a text message.
The Suicide Prevention Lifeline reports that nearly 100 Americans die by suicide every day, and that in the last year, more than 8 million Americans 18 or older had thought seriously about suicide.