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Published December 16, 2011, 07:29 PM

Facebook getting proactive to combat suicide

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Social media has turned into a breeding ground of teen bullying. In worst case scenarios like we've seen locally, that bullying can lead to suicide. Now Facebook is taking a proactive approach to beef up its fight against the growing problem.

Social media has turned into a breeding ground of teen bullying. In worst case scenarios like we've seen locally, that bullying can lead to suicide. Now Facebook is taking a proactive approach to beef up its fight against the growing problem.

It was just over 13 months ago that 16 year-old Cassidy Andel posted on her Facebook wall "My time has come, and so I’m gone, to a better place, far beyond." She would take her life shortly after, leaving her best friend wondering what else she could have done.

Alyssa Jacobsen – Friend of Cassidy: "All we talked about was how she was being bullied a lot."

Unfortunately stories just like Cassidy's are happening everyday all over the country. You've likely seen this young boy sharing his bullying story through note cards, or Jamey Rodemeyer spilling his heartbreak through a webcam post. He would later take his life.

Facebook is now countering with a new suicide prevention program. When someone posts a suicidal message the site will offer to connect them with a crisis counselor through its private chat system.

Cindy Miller - First Link Executive Director: "That personal connection makes such a difference, talking to someone listening to them showing them you care."

The importance of instant contact is in the numbers. Through October this year First Link had 870 suicidal calls. Only 55 times law enforcement had to be dispatched. The one hurdle with this Facebook program is a friend or stranger stepping up and taking action. Someone needs to first see the post and report it to Facebook.

Cindy Miller: "And then what a relief that is to them that someone knows what they're thinking and feeling and now can try to help them get support."

We'll never know, had the program been here just 13 months ago, it could have been a different story for Cassidy. Instead it's here now and hopefully can be one solution to a national outcry.

First link will eventually be training its support staff to handle situation through online.

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