Facebook and Samaritans have joined forces to spot suicidal status updates on the social networking site.

Samaritans is a UK-based counselling service that offers advice to those who need it 24-hours a day via telephone, email or face-to-face.

Facebook will incorporate a functionality to allow Facebook members to flag up friends who are causing concern, passing their details on to the counsellors.

Facebook friends ignore suicide bid

The action follows a number of cases where Facebook members have taken to the social networking site to say their last words.

The most highly publicised was the case of Simone Back who took to the platform over Christmas to inform her 1,048 friends that she had taken an overdose. The alarm wasn’t raised for 24 hours by which point it was too late.

Facebook users who had access to Back’s wall expressed doubt and scorn accusing her of being a “liar” and saying it was “her choice”.

It wasn’t until someone texted Back’s mother the next day that police were informed

With this latest Facebook addition, police will also be notified of distressful status updates.

Samaritan’s chief executive, Catherine Johnstone, said: “As a friend you are better placed to know whether someone close to you is struggling to cope or even feeling suicidal. We want to remind people that if a friend says that life isn’t worth living, they should always be taken seriously.”