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Wonderful thought and worthwhile effort. And I see that Facebook is also making similar efforts. I'm glad to see that.

My meta-thought about this is how do you make this proactive instead of passive? If you don't visit raganwald or Facebook, how will you get any encouragement this Christmas season?

I've often thought that some corners of the Internet could benefit from a virtual chaplain who could approach members of their online community if they suspected something was wrong. Or they could be a low threat pre-suicide (or other issue) conversation and make themself very approachable for those moving in that direction to try to steer them onto more healthy directions.

Is this a good idea, or is it just my inner pastor thinking out loud?

I don't think it's that easy to tell, especially not on the internet. A better question might be, how do you reach out to people suffering in silence and convince them it is okay to talk? (An anonymous online suicide hotline which doesn't report cases to the authorities might help, but I suspect it would be trolled.)

What Facebook effort are you referring to?

I just heard this on NPR this morning, so I may not have the specifics: Apparently, FB will provide a link that somebody can click if one of their friends writes something that friend thinks indicates their friend may be having suicidal thoughts, and their friend will get a message for a real-time chat with someone from a suicide prevention place.

The FB effort is this one:


And your point about it not being easy to tell is very true. This is why the thought about the virtual chaplain. People would hopefully carry enough real-world positive thoughts about chaplains into their virtual dealings to feel comfortable "talking" with an online chaplain. If a community had a designated chaplain, that person would be known to the other members of the community and anyone with issues would be encouraged to have confidential communication with that person. (Chaplains being licensed religious ministers are usually permitted by the law to keep the contents of conversations private ... except in a few very specific cases such as child abuse mandatory reporting situations.)

It is probably this: http://www.chron.com/news/article/APNewsBreak-Facebook-aims-...

(I work at Facebook, but am not involved in this feature.)

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