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Facebook to take safety measures against Online Suicide Challenges

Facebook said that additional resources about suicide prevention and online well-being will also be added to its Safety Center

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Facebook to take safety measures against Online Suicide Challenges
Facebook to take safety measures against Online Suicide Challenges. Pixabay
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New Delhi, India, September 8, 2017:  At a time when reports of suicides linked to the Blue Whale challenge internet game are sending shock waves through the country, Facebook on Friday said it is working with suicide prevention partners to collect phrases, hashtags and group names associated with online challenges encouraging self-harm or suicide.

“We offer resources to people that search for these terms on Facebook,” the social media giant said.

The Blue Whale challenge is said to psychologically provoke players to indulge in daring, self-destructive tasks for 50 days before finally taking the “winning” step of killing themselves.

Facebook said it also removes content that violates our Community Standards, which do not allow the promotion of self-injury or suicide.

Starting on World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, Facebook said it would also connect people in India with information about support groups and suicide prevention tools in News Feed.

“Facebook is a place where people connect and share, and one of the things we have learnt from the mental health partners and academics we have worked with on this issue, is that being connected is a protective factor in suicide prevention,” said Ankhi Das, Director of Public Policy for Facebook in India, South and Central Asia.

Additional resources about suicide prevention and online well-being will also be added to its Safety Center, Facebook said.

With these resources, people can access tools to resolve conflict online, help a friend who is expressing suicidal thoughts or get resources if they are going through a difficult time.

“We care deeply about the safety and millions of people in India who use Facebook to connect with the people who matter to them, and recognize there’s an opportunity with these tools and resources to connect someone who is struggling with a person they already have a relationship with,” Das said.

Facebook’s Safety Center also offers guidance for parents, teenagers, educators, and law enforcement officials to start a conversation about online safety, with localized resources and videos available.

People can also reach out to Facebook when they see something that makes them concerned about a friend’s well-being.

“We have teams working around the world, 24/7, who review reports that come in and prioritize the most serious reports of suicide. For those who reach out to us, we provide suggested text to make it easier for people to start a conversation with their friend in need,” Facebook said.

“We provide the friend who has expressed suicidal thoughts information about local help lines, along with other tips and resources,” it added. (IANS)

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How the Internet can help those who self-injure

The study, published in the journal Digital Health, suggested that those who engage in NSSI, the Internet can provide a less threatening and more anonymous information and support network, especially if individuals are not getting support elsewhere.

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The Internet can provide a less threatening and more anonymous information and support network, especially if individuals are not getting support elsewhere. Pixabay

Positive messaging through social media could be a powerful tool to help people overcome non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), a new study has found.

The study, published in the journal Digital Health, suggested that those who engage in NSSI, the Internet can provide a less threatening and more anonymous information and support network, especially if individuals are not getting support elsewhere.

“Self-injury, including cutting and burning, is a serious public health concern around the world,” said lead author Stephen Lewis, Professor at Canada’s University of Guelph.

The researchers also found that while it affects people of all ages, self-injury is more prevalent among people from 14 to 24. Within that age range, up to one in five have engaged in self-injury.

“We know that young people who struggle with self-injury often go online to obtain needed social support,” said Lewis, adding that the stigma surrounding self-injury contributes to a strong sense of isolation.

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Exposure to pessimistic comments about recovery did not increase participants’ sense of hopelessness. Pixabay

For the study, the researchers measured how online comments about self-injury affected the attitudes about recovery in people who have engaged in self-injury.

The team embedded fictional peer comments in a screenshot of an NSSI-themed YouTube video and assessed attitudes about NSSI recovery before and after positive and negative messaging.

While there is growing concern that accessing NSSI content online may hinder recovery, the researcher found that exposure to positive comments improved participants’ attitudes about recovery.

They also found that exposure to pessimistic comments about recovery did not increase participants’ sense of hopelessness.

“NSSI is a complex concern, but many who self-injure experience very painful, intense and difficult emotions that are perceived as extremely difficult to tolerate and control,” Lewis said.

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“To this end, we see that the most common reason given for self-injury is to get relief from these adverse experiences, even if for a moment,” Lewis noted. (IANS)