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Facebook rolls out updated suicide prevention tools in India 

New Delhi, June 15 (IANS) In a bid to curb self-injury and suicide episodes in India, social networking giant Facebook on Wednesday rolled out updated suicide prevention tools in collaboration with local partners in English and Hindi.

The updated tools, also available to all 1.65 billion Facebook monthly active users now, were unveiled with help from non-profit organisations AASRA and The Live Love Laugh Foundation.

“We care deeply about the safety and well-being of the 148 million people in India who use Facebook to connect with the people who matter to them and recognise. There’s an opportunity with these tools and resources to connect someone who is struggling with a person they already have a relationship with,” said Ankhi Das, Public Policy Director at Facebook India (South and Central Asia) in a statement.

“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,” Das added.

Developed in collaboration with mental health organisations and with inputs from people who have personal experience with self-injury and suicide, these tools were first launched in the US with the help of organisations like Forefront, Lifeline and Save.org.

“The tools Facebook are rolling out aim both at people who are expressing suicidal thoughts and also guide concerned friends or family members to resources and alternatives and appropriate interventions,” said Anna Chandy, Chairperson-Trustees, The Live Love Laugh Foundation.

With the help of these new tools, if someone posts something on Facebook that makes you concerned about their well being, you can reach out to them directly and you can also report the post to Facebook.

In a latest incident in Gurgaon, Haryana in India, a 32-year-old man was saved by his friends and the police after he posted pictures of a suicide bid on Facebook.

Varun Malik, who works in a multinational company, tried to commit suicide by cutting his wrist and uploaded the pictures of a bleeding hand on the social networking site Facebook.

His friends who saw the post came to his rescue and informed the police immediately. Malik was rushed to a private hospital where doctors said his condition was stable.

“AASRA has been working with Facebook for several years to help people who are having suicidal thoughts. Facebook’s new tool is another step forward in helping to prevent suicide,” noted Johnson Thomas, Director, AASRA.

According to Antigone Davis, Global Head of Safety and Jennifer Guadagno, Researcher, at Facebook, “We have teams working around the world, 24/7, who review reports that come in. They prioritize the most serious reports like self-injury.”

“We’re updating the resources we offer to people around the world who may be experiencing self-injury or suicidal thoughts, as well as the support we offer to their concerned friends and family members,” they posted.

According to Deepika Padukone, Founder of The Live Love Laugh Foundation, the rate of suicide among the youth in India is one of the highest in the world.

“We are happy to partner with Facebook in this suicide prevention initiative. It is especially important to reach out to young people out there who are feeling depressed and encourage them to reach out for help,” Padukone said.

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