Social media giant Facebook is rolling out a feature which aims to reduce suicides by offering support.

The Suicide Prevention tool has already been tested in the US and Australia and was developed in conjunction with the Samaritans.

Facebook 1

Facebook says it has “significantly expanded the support available” to those who post worrying messages on the platform.

It attempts to provide support for people struggling, as well as family and friends who may be able to help.

Rather than the usual route of ‘reporting’ a post which may contain red flags, the Suicide Prevention tool allows users to anonymously allow Facebook to send a message directly.

Julie de Bailliencourt, EMEA Safety Policy Manager at Facebook said to Newsbeat: “We have a really strong sense of responsibility towards the safety of people who are on our platform.

“We felt that while we’ve been working with the Samaritans for a number of years, we wanted to take this partnership to a whole new level.”

While Facebook maintains that explicit threats of suicide should be reported to emergency services, it says other worrying posts can be flagged to Facebook.

Facebook 2

A 24h team will work to review posts, prioritising them ahead of other types of flag.

Newsbeat reports that, when asked whether she thinks the tool may be exploited in order to bully people who are not suicidal, she said she thinks not.

“I think people using reporting tools are responsible, they know this is a serious case and not to over abuse these areas. We haven’t noticed this. The language we’re using is quite empathetic – it’s saying hey someone’s worried about you and here are things we think may be useful,” she went on.

Users are offered the chance to connect with a person at the Samaritans, as well as reaching out to a friend.

Facebook 3

The previous system for reporting red flag posts 

Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland said: “If people can start to talk about the unbearable pain that they’re facing, we can interrupt that journey towards suicide. Suicide is not inevitable, it is preventable. This tools plays a really vital role in achieving that. “

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article and need to talk to someone, visit samaritans.org or call 08457 90 90 90.