I read about Ashley Billasano, the teenager who tweeted and then committed suicide and I was saddened. And then I remembered similar stories in the past and began to wonder. Is it that there is more suicide now, or simply that it is more reported in the media? I And more disturbing, why is it usually so closely related to social media? Is there a danger that people are copying others who they see commit suicide on Twitter or Facebook?
Social media guru, Trey Pennington wrote on twitter: 'Sure am thankful for online friends who are real friends offline, too. Love you.' just hours before his death. In Seoul, a former DJ tweeted, “I’m going to commit suicide. To all of you, even those who shared the slightest friendship with me, I love you,” and went ahead to hang himself. Clementi, the guy who committed suicide after being outed said farewell via Facebook: "Jumping off the gw bridge sorry." Some of you may remember Simone black, whose friends did nothing to help after she posted on FB, 'Took all my pills, bye bye'. In Bangalore, a lady whose boyfriend dumped her on FB also committed suicide subsequently.
There are even more cases, and close similarities, that I'm left with more questions instead of answers. Will socialized suicides become so common that more people think it's no big deal and do the same? Will we only shrug and move on when such news break?
But there is some hope, Facebook has partnered with The Samaritans to help prevent suicide. They even have a dedicated help page for those who may have friends affected. Also, in South Africa, a community on Twitter was able to stop a mother of two from killing herself. They tweeted love and support to her and spread her details till she was found and secured. It also made the main network news when the same happened with a follower of Demi Moore back in early days of Twitter in 2009.
One thing is certain, we can't negate these connections we make online. Like I said in my Blog Abandoned post, I wonder where and how bloggers who disappear are, and hope they're OK. It may seem our collective memories are very short, but we do remember. News like this may go away, but it never dies. Some people knew Ashley Billasano personally, chatted with her on twitter, read her last tweets and tried to help and encourage her. How are they feeling now? Guilty, lost, betrayed?
To be honest, I am a bit confused by all this. I may say suicide is not an option, or that it is not a way out of depression or life's problems. I wish they would think of those they left behind, their friends and family who care for them and who will bear that loss for the rest of their lives. But who am I to talk really? Have I walked in their shoes? Even if I don't understand them, I can decide to be human, and show a heart.
For Ashley Billasano, and those who could not bear it anymore. Rest in Peace.
For those still alive, and who are in pain. Please reach out and seek help. I pray peace for you, and life.
Causes Myne Whitman Supports
Save the Children, Red Cross,