Bangladesh police join forces with Meta, TikTok to prevent suicides

Special Bangladesh police join forces with Meta, TikTok to prevent suicides
Riot police stand guard during a protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (AP/File)
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Updated 21 February 2022

Bangladesh police join forces with Meta, TikTok to prevent suicides

Bangladesh police join forces with Meta, TikTok to prevent suicides
  • A man in Dhaka shot himself in the head during a Facebook Live stream in early February
  • A sociology expert said there is an “epidemic of suicide” in Bangladesh

DHAKA: Police in Bangladesh have joined forces with social media giants Meta and TikTok in an effort to prevent suicides after a man in Dhaka shot himself in the head during a livestream earlier this month. 

The death of the 58-year-old man on Feb. 2, identified as Abu Mohsin Khan, father-in-law of renowned Bangladeshi actor Riaz Uddin Ahamed Siddique, shocked the South Asian country, which recorded more than 14,000 suicides in 2019. 

The livestream incident prompted the country’s Criminal Investigation Department to work with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, and TikTok to identify users at risk of suicide. In the weeks since starting their collaboration, police said they have been alerted to at least one suicide threat daily. 

“The persons we identified as vulnerable to suicide are suffering from trauma. All of them were found in a detached mental state from family or society,” Mohammad Mahmudul Islam Talukder, assistant superintendent at CID’s Cyber Police Center, told Arab News. 

“The people need assistance and counseling,” he added, describing the situation as a “humanitarian” issue. 

Last Friday, Meta alerted police of a suicide threat involving a 22-year-old in Manikganj district, some 55 km from the capital. Authorities said the user wrote about taking a dozen sleeping pills after his girlfriend had backed out from a marriage that was supposed to take place this week. Though authorities were able to trace him and intervene, they said he is still processing the trauma. 

Police data showed men aged 16 to 32 in Bangladesh are more prone to suicide. 

Talukder said Meta uses artificial intelligence to identify suicide risks on their platforms, taking into account not only certain keywords but also analyzing images and videos that may showcase people in danger of harming themselves. The police, meanwhile, have 14 members in their expert team working on this issue. 

Meta has said it does not allow self-harm or suicide to be promoted or celebrated on Facebook and Instagram. The company removed copies of Khan’s suicide, and implemented measures to prevent other users from reposting the content. 

In the US and other countries, Meta has in recent years worked with law enforcement to flag possible suicide threats, but this appears to be the first time such a collaboration has taken place in Bangladesh. 

"We are constantly improving our systems to detect and take down violating content as quickly as possible,” a Meta spokesperson told Arab News. “We also consult with experts in suicide and self-injury to help inform our policies and enforcement, and work with organizations in Bangladesh and around the world to provide assistance to people in distress.” 

Bangladesh police said they are also working with video-sharing platform TikTok in suicide prevention efforts.

However, recent incidents may only illustrate the tip of the iceberg, with about half of suicide attempts remaining unreported in the country, according to Dr. ASM Amanullah from Dhaka University. 

The sociology professor said there is an “epidemic of suicide” in Bangladesh. The country of about 167 million only has about 500 professional psychologists and 1,200 counselors, he added. 

“We have yet to develop a system to address mental health issues,” Amanullah told Arab News. 

Not only does the country need more psychologists, he said organizations should be working with mental health professionals to address these issues among their employees. 

“A massive investment is required to deal with the mental health of the people (in Bangladesh),” he added.


Man charged with new woman’s killing on streets of London

Updated 8 sec ago

Man charged with new woman’s killing on streets of London

Man charged with new woman’s killing on streets of London
LONDON: A man was remanded in custody Wednesday after appearing in a London court charged with the murder and attempted rape of a woman who had been walking home alone in east London.
It was the latest in a string of similar incidents that have heightened concern over the safety of women and girls on the British capital’s streets.
Jordan McSweeney, 29, is charged with the murder of 35-year-old Zara Aleena, who was attacked after a night out in Ilford in the early hours of Sunday.
McSweeney, who is also charged with attempted rape and robbery, spoke only to confirm his name and details during a brief hearing at the Thames Magistrates’ Court.
In a statement, Aleena’s family mourned her death and called for an end to violence against women. They highlighted the killings of other women who were targeted by strangers in London and elsewhere.
The family expressed sympathy to the families of Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa and others who were killed in recent months and whose deaths prompted widespread protests calling for more protection for women and girls.
The family said Aleena, a law graduate who was training to become a lawyer, “walked everywhere” and “believed that a woman should be able to walk home.”
“Sadly, Zara is not the only one who has had her life taken at the hands of a stranger. We all know women should be safe on our streets. She was in the heart of her community, 10 minutes from home,” their statement said.
Police said Aleena suffered serious head injuries, confirmed in a post-mortem examination.
McSweeney was denied bail and remanded in custody until he is due to appear at London’s Central Criminal Court on Jul. 27.
A march remembering Aleena is planned in Ilford on Saturday.

Japan’s Kishida backs Sweden’s NATO bid

Japan’s Kishida backs Sweden’s NATO bid
Updated 5 min 24 sec ago

Japan’s Kishida backs Sweden’s NATO bid

Japan’s Kishida backs Sweden’s NATO bid
  • Japan hopes to strengthen its relations with Sweden further as partners sharing basic values, Kishida added.

MADRID: Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio on Wednesday expressed support for Sweden’s bid to join NATO in a meeting with his Swedish counterpart, Magdalena Andersson, on Wednesday.
“We support (Sweden’s) historic decision. We also express our respect for its efforts,” Kishida told Andersson.
NATO, which opened a two-day summit in Madrid on Wednesday, is expected to grant membership to Sweden and Finland after Turkey switched to support their participation.
Kishida said that Japan and Sweden will hold the presidency of the Group of Seven major powers and the European Union, respectively, next year.
Japan hopes to strengthen its relations with Sweden further as partners sharing basic values, Kishida added.
Andersson expressed gratitude for Japan’s strong action against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.


Russian court lets opposition figure’s jail term stand

Russian court lets opposition figure’s jail term stand
Updated 29 June 2022

Russian court lets opposition figure’s jail term stand

Russian court lets opposition figure’s jail term stand
  • The decision by the Moscow City Court came one day after Ilya Yashin was sentenced

MOSCOW: A court in Moscow on Wednesday rejected a prominent Russian opposition figure’s appeal of the 15-day jail sentence he received on charges of failing to obey police.
The decision by the Moscow City Court, the capital’s highest municipal judicial body, came one day after Ilya Yashin was sentenced.
Yashin, who has publicly criticized Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, was detained late Monday in a Moscow park. Police said he grabbed an officer by his uniform and insulted police, which Yashin denied.
In May, Yashin was ordered to pay 90,000 rubles ($1700) on charges of discrediting the Russian military.
Russia has cracked down on critics of its “special military operation” in Ukraine, A well-known dissident, Vladimir Kara-Murza, was arrested in April and remains jailed while awaiting trial on charges of spreading false information about the military. The offense carries a potential sentence of up to 15 years.


NATO invites Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, Madrid summit statement says

NATO invites Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, Madrid summit statement says
Updated 29 June 2022

NATO invites Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, Madrid summit statement says

NATO invites Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, Madrid summit statement says
  • The alliance also agreed on a new strategic concept

MADRID: NATO has invited Sweden and Finland to become members of the military alliance, a commununique published by the NATO summit in Madrid on Wednesday said.
“The accession of Finland and Sweden will make them (the allies) safer, NATO stronger and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure,” the communique said, adding that the alliance also agreed a new strategic concept.
The communique described Russia as the “most significant and direct threat to the allies’ security,” a reaction to the massively deteriorated relationship to Russia since its invasion of Ukraine.
The alliance pledged further help to Kyiv and agreed a package of support aimed at modernizing the country’s defense sector.
At the same time, NATO decided to significantly strengthen its own deterrence and defense.
“Allies have committed to deploy additional robust in-place combat-ready forces on our eastern flank, to be scaled up from the existing battlegroups to brigade-size units, where and when required underpinned by credible available reinforcements, prepositioned equipment, and enhanced command and control,” the communique said.
In the communique, the alliance described China as a challenge to NATO’s interests, security and values, and as a country that is seeking to undermine the rules-based international order.


EU proposes ban on flavored heated tobacco products

EU proposes ban on flavored heated tobacco products
Updated 29 June 2022

EU proposes ban on flavored heated tobacco products

EU proposes ban on flavored heated tobacco products
  • A recent commission study showed a 10% increase in sales of heated tobacco products in more than five member nations
  • The ban would cover devices using heated tobacco to produce emissions containing nicotine inhaled by users

BRUSSELS: The European Union’s executive branch on Wednesday proposed a ban on the sale of flavored heated tobacco products as part of its plan to fight cancer.
The European Commission said its proposal comes in response to a significant increase in the volume of such products sold across the 27-nation bloc.
A recent commission study showed a 10 percent increase in sales of heated tobacco products in more than five member nations, while heated tobacco products exceeded 2.5 percent of total sales of tobacco products overall across the region.
The ban would cover devices using heated tobacco to produce emissions containing nicotine inhaled by users. E-cigarettes may contain nicotine, but not tobacco. With traditional cigarettes, users inhale smoke from burning tobacco.
“With nine out of 10 lung cancers caused by tobacco, we want to make smoking as unattractive as possible to protect the health of our citizens and save lives,” said Stella Kyriakides, the commissioner for health and food safety.
According to EU figures, cancer is the second cause of death in the bloc of 450 million residents. There are about 1.3 million cancer deaths and 3.5 million new cases annually in the EU.
An estimated 40 percent of EU citizens will face cancer at some point in their lives, with the annual economic impact estimated at around 100 billion euros ($120 billion).
The European Commission previously said it wanted to ensure that less than 5 percent of the EU population uses tobacco by 2040.
The proposed ban now goes to member nations and European Parliament lawmakers for review.