Hannah is a 16-year old from New Jersey. She loves to compete with color guard and marching band, and play piano. She hopes to become a writer one day, and to inspire others to follow their dreams.
In society, social networking seems to get a bad name. It is called out for being the cause of cyber bullying, procrastination, isolation, and other problems. However, people fail to see how social networking can be beneficial. With problems that do not relate to the internet — such as addiction and suicidal thoughts — statuses, blogs, and other updates can bring attention that can save a life.
What role in addictions and suicides can social networks play?
In April 2009, Demi Moore received a tweet from a follower who was going to commit suicide. The tweet contained explicit details of the suicidal woman’s plans. In another case, a status from a Facebook friend hinted at a problem in the days before his suicide. More recently, I witnessed a teenage girl post her suicide note on Tumblr. In it, she described her feelings, her loneliness, and the addictions she could not overcome. Through Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter, posting final goodbyes or details of the suicide online is becoming a trend. With these sites, it is easy for people to put out one last cry for help.
The truth is, teens often feel safe posting about problems on the web, and severe addictions and suicide notes are no exceptions. Our blogs, walls, dashboards, and newsfeeds are all customized in a way so that it feels like we have something unique. In fact, it is often forgotten that we are not writing in a diary, but on a public area. Details on addictions and suicides may be posted as a cry for help or maybe just with the idea that no one will see it. Either way, whether it be a short farewell message on facebook or a long descriptive post on Tumblr, these cries are serious and deserve immediate attention.
How can social networking save a life?
What was once a written note that was found following a suicide has evolved into an opportunity for help from followers and friends. In the case of Demi Moore, she retweeted the suicide note she received. Within minutes, many followers had contacted the police and the woman was in the hospital getting help. A similar situation played out on Tumblr. Quickly after reading the girl’s suicide note, followers asked bigger blogs to spread the word to help the girl. Through reblogs, the cry for help spread through Tumblr. In the end, the girl did not go through with the suicide and even pledged to see a therapist, for she had received thousands of messages telling her how she was beautiful and how valuable her life was. Situations like these play out over and over online.
Suicidal posts should always be taken seriously. Chances are the affected person wants someone to care. Although kind words can sometimes be effective, it is important to talk to a parent, a school counselor, or even call the police if you feel someone is going to endanger their life. This new and misunderstood trend can be a helpful one, if people do their part and understand.