Facebook announced Wednesday that it would begin using artificial intelligence to identity users who may be at risk for suicide.
The feature will be added to the company’s Messenger service and video streaming platform Facebook Live.
The announcement follows a series of disturbing incidents in which users filmed their own suicides via Facebook Live. Last month, a man in Los Angeles and a girl in Florida killed themselves while livestreaming.
The company is testing artificial intelligence technologies that would identify users who exhibit warning signs of suicide and self-harm in posts, comments and video.
A qualified professional would then reach out to the user on Messenger. Facebook has partnered with institutions such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Crisis Text Line in the effort.
The tools also allow users to easily reach out to friends they are worried about. The company had already been screening Facebook posts for possibly suicidal behavior, but now those tactics will be expanded and added to Messenger and Facebook Live.
“Today we're introducing updated tools and resources for people who may be contemplating suicide, as well as the support we offer to their concerned friends and family members,” Facebook said in a statment. “Now our suicide prevention tools for Facebook posts will be available on Live videos in real time. People watching will have the option to reach out to the person directly and also report the stream to us. We also provide additional resources to assist that person in helping their friend.”
As a potentially suicidal user is filming with Facebook Live, a set of options to reach out to a friend or hotline will automatically appear.
“Experts say that the best way to prevent suicide is for those in distress to hear from people who care about them,” the statement said. “We are also launching a campaign with partners around the world to raise awareness and encourage people to reach out if they see a friend is in distress. When friends are in need, reaching out can make a difference.”
The tools are being rolled out in the United States but are scheduled to expand to other countries throughout the year.