Photo: Getty Images
Many teenagers and college students use Facebook to write public messages on the site that are serious cries for help – made out of depression that is sometimes so severe that it is suicidal.From Jan Hoffman of The New York Times:
Last year, researchers examined Facebook profiles of 200 students at the University of Washington and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Some 30 per cent posted updates that met the American Psychiatric Association’s criteria for a symptom of depression, reporting feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, insomnia or sleeping too much, and difficulty concentrating.
The heartening thing is this: Facebook has created a button users can click to flag a friend’s post as suicidal. Flagging a post this way sends the person who wrote the depressed message a suicide prevention number and a way to contact a counselor. It sends the suicide prevention number to the friend who noticed too.
Hoffman’s Times story also goes into how mental health practitioners, colleges, and friends are all using Facebook to keep better tabs on people who need help (through non-creepy, non-invasive means).
Readers often complain when we write about Facebook and Twitter.
They say that social media makes it so people quit seeing each other in person, and stay on their computers instead.
The implication is that Facebook is a dehumanizing force, estranging us from each other.
But what if Facebook is actually just a new, easier way to talk and listen to each other? What if it enables us to act like a smarter, better community? What if it saves lives?