Just this week, I was late in catching up and reading about two people who committed suicide. Very sad stuff.
The two cases I cite today both announced their suicidal intentions via online social networking sites… It is this unusual phenomenon that is my subject of discussion and thought today…
The two stories I am referring to are Abraham Biggs and Paul
Zolezzi, two young men who used online social networking sites during their successful suicide
Abraham Biggs was a college student who broadcast his
suicide attempt over the Internet, where countless numbers of people
watched him die by poisoning. Zolezzi, an aspiring model and actor,
updated his Facebook status message with an apparent suicide note, and
then died by suffocation later that day.
It’s intriguing and beggars belief as far as I am concerned that these two individuals chose these ways to
reach out, but incredibly saddening that almost no one responded to their
cries for help… Is social media that soulless?
It might seem bizarre to look for a relationship between social media and suicide prevention! I use twitter, facebook and others on a daily basis. I wonder how we tap into the ways that social media can actually be a social support? It got me thinking about how my own networks — many of whom I do not know of beyond my field of work — would react to any personal requests, if I were to make any?
Social media, such as this very platform — my blog — social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, and microblogs like Twitter, are building communities in innovative and unconventional ways… I have communites of ‘friends’ from all over the world with an interest in hypnotherapy, hypnosis, self-hypnosis, NLP and other forms of self-improvement and personal development.
They facilitate instantaneous interaction and simultaneously, anonymity and full disclosure — completely new dynamics for what have become virtual communities. My own members area is a very supportive environment — I believe… Though I question the authenticity of relationships developed in this way in places such as facebook or twitter.
What do we know about how to build communities that support individuals?
Critical elements seem to be connection and relationships… I think they are critical anyway. When people feel connected to others and supported by them to be who they are — as they do in virtual communities — they have a safety net that may help protect them at times of despair.
There seem to be lessons to learn from the ways social media are building communities, but also caveats. The anonymity and the resultant diffusion of responsibility can leave people who are asking for help via these channels without a response… As I mentioned earlier.
On the other side of that coin though, I read recently actress Demi Moore helped prevent a suicide using her Twitter account. Moore quickly replied to a posting by one of her Twitter followers which talked about suicide, and other Twitter followers were able to determine where the woman lived and send police to her home.
I’d like to think I’d respond in a progressive way… Maybe that is inherent in being a hypnotherapist and therapy professional?
just some thoughts today… Until tomorrow.