From PC Mag
by Damon Poeter
Facebook on Wednesday announced a new partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Blue Star Families to provide customized Facebook crisis services to military families at risk for depression and suicide.
The offering will augment the social network’s current suicide-prevention service, which launched in December.
The new military crisis service is aimed at veterans, active duty service members, and their families, a Blue Star Families spokesperson said. The organization conducts an annual Military Lifestyle Survey, the results of which prompted Blue Star Families to reach out to Facebook for help in leveraging its influence in the lives of military families to better support at-risk individuals and their loved ones.
“Today, we along with Facebook and the Department of Veterans Affairs are proud to announce that the Facebook military crisis content is live,” said Stephanie Himel-Nelson, director of communications for Blue Star Families, said in a blog post.
“As a result, friends and families with concerns about veterans, active duty service members and military family members will receive specific information about crisis services for our nation’s military including The Veterans Crisis Line,” she continued. “The Veterans Crisis line connects veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders via phone, online chat or text messaging.”
The customized suicide prevention service from Facebook will help Facebook users to identify at-risk military families and military personnel. Friends and families can report Facebook content they think is harmful or indicative of suicidal behavior and access information about crisis services like The Veterans Crisis Line, Himel-Nelson said.
Blue Star Families’ 2012 Military Lifestyle Survey revealed some grim statistics about life in the extended military community, but also pointed to a potential lifeline in the form of Facebook.
According to the survey, some 9 percent of service members have considered suicide; shockingly, their loved ones are similarly at risk – 10 percent of military family members said they had considered suicide as well.
“Honestly, Facebook is my lifeline,” Erin Whitehead, Blue Star Families’ Marine Corps Spouse of the Year in 2010, told the organization. “The friendships I have made with spouses all over the world on Facebook keep me plugged in to an amazing network of spouses who I can call on day or night. In social media, the milspouse community has found an invaluable resource – the ability to keep an intimate friendship with the people with whom you have shared some of the toughest times—no matter where the military sends you.”
Facebook will host a live discussion about the plan on Thursday at 3 p.m. ET, which will bewebcast online. Reps from Blue Star Families, Facebook, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Wounded Warrior Project will be on hand to answer questions, which can be submitted via the event’s wall.