A photo taken on May 16, 2012 shows a computer screen displaying the logo of social networking site Facebook reflected in a window before the Beijing skyline / Ed Jones/AFP/GettyImages

Friends will be able to ‘report’ the posts of users they’re worried about, who will be encouraged to talk to friends or professionals

Facebook is adding new tools that it hopes will help users report worries about friends they’re concerned about, in an effort to stop suicide and self-harm.

The company initially rolled out suicide prevention tools in 2011, allowing users to send information to Facebook, but have now introduced extra tools to make it easier for users to report users they’re worried about.

The new tools, detailed in a Facebook post last night after the company’s “Compassion Research Day”, encourages users to speak to friends and gives tips and advice on how to “work through these feelings”.

If a post is reported, a box appears to users saying: “Hi, a friend thinks you might be going through something dififcult and asked us to look at your recent post”. It then gives users the option to “reach out to a friend or helpline worker” or to “get tips and support”.

The tools were created in conjunction with clinical and academic partners, the company said.

Facebook still advises its users to get in touch with local emergency services if they see a “direct threat of suicide” on the site.

Samaritans launched a similar service, Radar, on Twitter. But that used an algorithm to spot certain keywords and phrases, often mistakenly reporting comments that in context were harmless.

The updates will be rolled out to US Facebook users “in the next couple of months”, the company said. It gave no timeline for the rollout outside of the US, saying that only that it is “also working to improve our tools for those outside the US”.

Anyone in need of confidential support can contact the Samaritans in the UK 24 hours a day on 08457 90 90 90.

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