TAMPA, Fla. (WTSP) – As Facebook Live videos grow in popularity among users, the darker side of social media has begun making headlines, with people on the edge taking to the platform to broadcast their final moments of life.
This week, a 24-year-old man in Mumbai committed suicide after jumping from the 19th story of a hotel just after finishing a Facebook Live broadcast that showed he was on the edge. There was also the widely-covered incident out of Miami in January, where a 14-year-old girl in Miami used Facebook to let people watch her hang herself.
But the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay is playing a role in preventing such tragedies, by partnering with Facebook to offer support to people displaying suicidal behavior.
“Facebook has become a vehicle for a lot of wonderful things, and also for things that aren’t so great. So, this is a proactive step, and I think it’s a great partnership with organizations like mine to help those who are in crisis that may not know about resources such as the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay,” said CEO Clara Reynolds.
Last month, Facebook addressed concerns about its social responsibility on its live platform with an updated set of virtual tools to help people in distress. Now, when watching a Facebook Live video, users have the option to flag the broadcast in a way that will bring up resources on the broadcaster’s screen. Some of the options include live chat from crisis support workers, as well as the ability to reach out to emergency services right away.
“When an individual in this community has been identified by Facebook, they will be routed here to the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay via phone or via chat,” said Reynolds.
“These tools are here to help us. We also know that they’re not going to be perfect all the time, so I would…use those controls. If you’re here in the Tampa Bay Area, you can dial 211 at any time 24 hours a day, seven days a week to get help, support answer your questions, anything at all if you’re concerned that a friend or a loved one is contemplating suicide.”
Reynolds also stresses the importance of not being afraid to reach out to someone if they are exhibiting suicidal behavior.
“Go ahead and have those discussions, as hard as they may be. Show somebody that you care. Show them that they are valuable, that they are worthwhile, that that there is help and there’s hope. Hope is the building block of everything, and sometimes hope starts with that very simple conversation.”