Every day, we share so much data about our lives on Facebook and other social networks. It shouldn’t be a surprise to consider that people who suffer from emotional distress might also use the networks to leave clues about their situations and even hint about being suicidal.

facebook broken heartBecause this type of information is readily at hand, Facebook has joined forces with Save.org, a nonprofit devoted to suicide prevention, to study the activity of users on Facebook who committed suicide. By finding behavioral patterns connected to suicidal thinking, the research may help prompt family and friends in intervening before it becomes too late.

Of course, nothing can substitute for an actual conversation with someone who is troubled. But social media can now assist in educating people about the warning signs of emotional distress, and make friends and family more vigilant and perhaps more likely to intervene.

Facebook and social media is changing healthcare in more ways than one might imagine.