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Inspired from a story in the London Telegraph 
7th-Jan-2011 03:04 pm
This poll is about how you would react if someone posted a suicide note on a website like LiveJournal or Facebook. It is spawned from a story in the London Telegraph that I posted behind the cut. Please take a few seconds to read the story and complete the poll, provided that you do not find this subject matter to be too disturbing.

Mother of Facebook suicide woman asks why none of her 'friends' helped

A middle-aged woman who told her 1,048 Facebook "friends" that she had taken an overdose was found dead the next day after none came to her aid.

Simone Back, 42, posted a last message on the social networking site at 10.53pm on Christmas Day saying: "Took all my pills be dead soon bye bye everyone."

Some of the Facebook friends posted messages calling her a liar and one said it was "her choice".

Seventeen hours later, police broke down the door of her flat in Montague Street, Brighton, and found her dead.

It is not yet known at what time Miss Back died or whether she could have seen any of the messages.

Miss Back's mother, Jennifer Langridge, who called 999 after someone finally texted her about her daughter's online suicide note, said: "Nobody told me anything about it until the following day when I was sent a text saying: 'get help'.

Poll #1665558 Facebook Suicide Note

Do the deceased person's Facebook friends bear any responsibility for this person's death?

I'm not sure
Something else (what?)

The Facebook friends of the deceased are all a bunch of terrible people.

I strongly agree with this statement
I agree somewhat
I don't know whether I agree or disagree with this statement
I disagree somewhat
I strongly disagree
Something else (what?)

I hate how, every time there is a tragedy like this, the media looks to find someone to blame. Why can't they just acknowledge that something tragic has happened and leave it at that?

I strongly agree
I agree somewhat
I don't know whether I agree or disagree with this statement
I disagree somewhat
I strongly disagree
Something else (what?)

Assume that a Facebook (or Livejournal) friend posts an entry which states that the person intends to commit suicide. Assume that there is nothing suggesting that they are joking or being flippant. How would you react?

I would call the police
I would notify the website's maintainer
I would try to contact the person who posted the entry
I would report it only if I knew the friend in person
I would contact the person who posted the entry only if I knew them in person
If I had never actually met the person who posted it, I would notify the police
If I had never actually met the person who posted it, I would notify the maintainer of the website
If I had never actually met the person, I would probably do nothing, but would hope that someone closer to the person would take action
I would do nothing. I can't control what someone else is going to do with their life
I would probably do nothing, but I'm afraid of being judged by others for admitting this.
I have actually had to deal with this situation. (Tell us what happened if you feel comfortable in doing so.)
None of these answers describe how I would react
Something else (what?)
7th-Jan-2011 11:29 pm (UTC)
You write an excellent poll, sir, as always. =)

I wonder what inspired the late Simone to inflict such anguish on her online friends. I mention this because i have been suicidal several times, and i have thought a great deal about what the circumstances of my own death would do to my friends, family, and co-workers. As such, my plans have always been to minimize what it would do to those i care about, not to make it more dramatic and hurtful.
8th-Jan-2011 12:51 am (UTC)
You're too kind, and I found your comment very insightful.
7th-Jan-2011 11:48 pm (UTC)
I think it's very sad that noone checked on her, but seeing her number of contacts, I guess FB friends =/= real friends.
Her leaving that message was probably a cry for help.
8th-Jan-2011 01:28 am (UTC)
I have actually been that suicidal person, posting my note online.

And while I voluntarily went to the hospital before the pills I took could do any real harm, a friend of mine called the police.

Honestly, it never occurred to me that anyone would do that when it happened, but now I'm just glad that some people out there will do the right thing.

Anyone who saw her suicide note and didn't do a thing, or worse, mocked it, ought to be ashamed of themself.
8th-Jan-2011 02:23 am (UTC)
I've been on the other end. And I did ring the police (actually I got my mother too because I was that distraught and upset about it). And it is definitely something I would do again without hesitation.

-cough- I should learn to read..change my answer for the last one from 'I'd call the cops' to 'Ive been in this situation' -headdesk-

8th-Jan-2011 05:51 am (UTC)
Honestly, her facebook friends have no responsibility for not believing somebody who goes "LOLZ TOOK ALL MAH PILLZ" in such a flippant manner. She obviously didn't care enough about what she was doing to write a goodbye that could be taken seriously, so I don't think they could be expected to think she was serious.

I've had friends do this before...usually it's been a cry for help (they didn't really take ALL their pills, they just looked online for how much would make them really sick but not kill them), but their online notes have always been much more urgent/serious than this woman's was. I think she clearly wanted to die more than she was crying for help. A cry for help is usually (in my experience) more believable/serious.
8th-Jan-2011 08:07 pm (UTC)
this is very true, but depending on the situation, and how far she had cracked, it could have affected her in a manner other than writing a long, thought out good-bye note.

ok, i have to figure out how to word this to get my point across properly...

depending upon which pills she had taken, the affects will be different. it could have been something that got her completely messed up (ive seen people on certain types of pills, purposely, and they had taken much more than the "required" dosage) and they didnt get somber or anything. she could have written that in the middle of the high, and really didnt know what she was thinking, only knowing that she didnt care at that point.

people can act crazy is something is really wrong.

also, she could have had things going on in her life that were just piling up, and she had gotten to that point of cracking. im sure we've all been there. you just go nuts, and in the middle of a stressful situation, you start laughing instead of crying. you just start having all these bizarre thoughts and feelings, and are just feeling like you are in a whirlwind and youre just going to let it take you for a ride for a minute or two.

we dont know what was ACTUALLY going on, or how she was actually feeling. people express themselves (and their pain) in different ways.
8th-Jan-2011 02:14 pm (UTC)
I'm not entirely sure, but I think there is a generational difference in how seriously people take Facebook status messages to be. People write passive-aggressive rants on FB all the time without really thinking, and then neglect to follow up. Accounts are frequently hacked, and strange things are seen on the walls of unsuspecting users.

The literature out there on suicidal psychology seems to indicate that people labor over the difficulty of this decision for a long time. In other words, there is a significant and serious internal dialogue before any conclusion is made. Given this, and the fact that I am over 30, I would be hesitant to act on any information found on a FB wall. But still, it's difficult to say for sure.
8th-Jan-2011 06:16 pm (UTC)
I have been in a similar situation. It wasn't on LJ or FB or anywhere public; I found out in a very roundabout way online that a somewhat estranged friend had announced her intention to possibly commit suicide. It also became apparent that none of the people that I found this out through had a way of contacting her offline or information about where she lives, or any way of getting these.

I believe it is everyone's right to decide whether they live or die, and how and when they live or die. I cannot in good conscience demand that someone else give up that right just because *I* think they shouldn't be allowed to die. I knew this particular person had been through a lot of pain, and was still going through a lot more. I could have found out her address. I could have called her local police, I could have tracked down her parents. I could have done a number of things to intervene.

What I did was dig out her phone number and send her a message saying I heard this, if it's true then it is your choice, I will miss you as will many other people but I wish your choice is right for you, whatever it ends up being.

She replied saying thank you, and that was that. My conscience was clean. It is still clean. Later I found out that she did not, at that time, commit suicide. (I have since lost all contact with her and don't know her current situation.) Many people will disagree with my view on this and some are likely to judge me, but I truly do not believe it is my place to decide whether someone is to live or die. It wasn't an easy decision at the time but to this day I believe it was the right one, and I believe I would still think this, had she gone through with her plan.
8th-Jan-2011 07:05 pm (UTC)
When in the situation, I immediately called the person. It thankfully turned out that the post was especialy depressive ramblings and not a threat of suicide though, because the person understood how incredibly selfish suicide is and wouldn't put their friends through that. I was also not the only lj friend to interpret the post as I did and try to contact the person to help. The person's situation has improved considerably in the intervening ~3 years.
9th-Jan-2011 02:23 am (UTC)
I have also called the police when someone on lj was threatening suicide. Also, a lot of their friends posted messages encouraging them to reconsider. I think it is harder on LJ and facebook when the person is not an IRL friend and you may not know who to contact or what to do.
10th-Jan-2011 03:39 am (UTC)
I always pray for someone if I know they are going through something like this. It may sound stupid to every single person who reads this, but I've personally seen the power of prayer at work. Even my husband, who doesn't have any of the same beliefs as myself believes it works.
10th-Jan-2011 04:57 pm (UTC)
I don't think this is stupid at all. It's something that one has to be open to in order to understand.
14th-Jan-2011 05:48 am (UTC)
Meant "I strongly disagree" but accidentally put "agree" for "The Facebook friends of the deceased are all a bunch of terrible people.". jfc I need to sleep.
I'm not on facebook and I would never make the message morbid, but I could see posting something about "taking all my pills" (meaning psychiatric drugs), and depending on the kind of person she was they could have taken it as a joke and just thought she was taking normal drugs? idk.
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