Facebook has teamed-up with UK charity Samaritans to allow users of the site to report friends they fear may be contemplating suicide.

The new scheme asks Facebookers to fill in a form, detailing worrying posts and status updates that will then be dealt with as a highest priority by Facebook's operations team.

They will then decide whether to call the police or to pass the information onto Samaritans. Users will also have the option of contacting Samaritans directly through phone numbers on Facebook's help page.

Raising the alarm

The initiative follows reports that an increasing number of people have used the social networking portal in order to announce their intentions to end their own lives.

On Christmas Day Simone Black, 42, informed over 1,000 friends that she had taken an overdose, but it wasn't until the next day that anyone raised the alarm to the authorities. By then it was too late.

Harness the power

Samaritans chief executive Catherine Johnstone says that the aim of the scheme is to harness the power of 30m UK Facebook users to ensure this doesn't happen again.

She says: "Through the popularity of Facebook, we are harnessing the power of friendship so people can get help.

"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.

"Facebook is a part of daily life for so many of us and we must make sure that people online have support when they need it."

Check out the Samaritans' Facebook page for more info