Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Facebook friends bicker while someone takes her own life

Well, this really shows how worthless an online 'community' can be, and is a dire warning not to rely on Facebook announcements. It's been on local TV tonight, and has been reported by the Guardian here:

A Brighton woman of 42 felt desperate enough to take all her pills in a suicide bid, left a farewell message on Facebook for her 'friends', but was not taken seriously by those who could have gone round to see her and save her life. Instead a series of online exchanges took place, which achieved nothing, and meanwhile the woman in question died.

Should any of her Facebook friends have intervened? Even if she might have been simply crying out in pain, even if she made a habit of it, I'd have thought a real friend would knock on her door to see if she was all right. She was obviously miserable and should not have been left in a potentially self-destructive mood. I personally don't think, if I had been one of those friends, that I could have ignored a clear suicide threat, or would have wasted time arguing about it. I'd have acted - gone round to see whether it was real, and be prepared to summon medical help, and stick around till it arrived. Is that so hard to do?

So much for Facebook.

Interestingly I got the strong impression that she had been trans. If so, then at least this time, or at least so far, the press have not made anything of that.


  1. If I saw a message like that and knew where the person lived, I would definitely go find the person. It's a combination of empathy and my training. I couldn't ignore something like that, or worse just chat about it.

  2. Thank you for posting this Lucy. I it did me good to read it. I don't use Facebook but on Twitter I have people in my feed who are regularly posting how down they feel. I have been guilty of thinking to myself (although I would never say it aloud) that they are just craving attention while others have been showing proper concern. When I have thoughts like this again I will reflect on this story. As the spokesman from Facebook says if you don't live nearby or feel you know the person very well you can reference their messages to The Samaritians online who will take appropriate action.

  3. True friends are like diamonds,precious and rare
    Others are like pebbles, they're found everwhere.

    I feel that facebook devalues the word 'friend'. Not that I've ever had anything to do with it, so I don't know.

  4. Facebook is a genre all of its own. I am on facebook and agree it can be shallow and superficial however understanding and using it for what it is does have benefits. I am useless at writing to all my friends regularly so I appreciate and enjoy seeing their status updates and leaving my own.

    I am only sorry that this poor person felt the only 'friends' she had and the best way to cry for help was to turn to 'facebook' it is now so large and so many people use it for alternative agenda's i.e. join causes... change your picture to support this or that...allow this feature to show you this or that amazing or sad thing! Its become all a bit trivial and I do agree with Anji, it has devalued friendship in the true sense. I think it is a sad indicator of how we are living, too fast to stop and build long friendships and in a techno isolated world we compensate for our loneliness by sending texts to 50 casual aqauintances asking 'wassup?' I am guilty of course but saying all this I would never ignore anyone who was looking for emotional help or comfort and although I use my laptop and phone to communicate with a wider world than my immediate circle of friends I do cherish real friendships and constantly seek to build lasting meaningful ones. This is a very sad story and a sobering wake up call for me as a facebook user. Thank you as always for a great post.
    helen xx


This blog is public, and I expect comments from many sources and points of view. They will be welcome if sincere, well-expressed and add something worthwhile to the post. If not, they face removal.

Ideally I want to hear from bloggers, who, like myself, are knowable as real people and can be contacted. Anyone whose identity is questionable or impossible to verify may have their comments removed. Commercially-inspired comments will certainly be deleted - I do not allow free advertising.

Whoever you are, if you wish to make a private comment, rather than a public one, then do consider emailing me - see my Blogger Profile for the address.

Lucy Melford