Facebook launched a new feature on Dec. 13 that may help deter suicide around the world. The social networking site will help its users instantly connect with crisis counselors through its chat messaging system when they need help.


How will the new feature work? It relies on info submitted by friends. For instance, if you read an unusual status update from a friend that sounds like he might be considering suicide, you can report it to Facebook by clicking a link next to the comment. Facebook will then send an email directly to the person who posted the suicidal comment, encouraging him to call a suicide-prevention hotline or click on a link to initiate a confidential chat with a counselor.


The social networking giant won't troll through status updates looking for suicidal comments because it would be too difficult, given the number of comments that the site sees each day. So the company is counting on users to click on this feature to protect their friends.  


When you consider that Facebook has 800 million users worldwide, and that an astonishing two-thirds of Americans are now on Facebook, this new feature shows real potential for helping to prevent suicide and help distraught users get the help they need — and quickly.  


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