Social media and suicide

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Social media and suicide have an important relationship. In one widely known case, the death of Phoebe Prince, it is generally believed that her actions were motivated by cyberbullying. In 2008 police in the United Kingdom expressed concern that "Internet cults" and the desire for achieving prestige via online memorials may encourage suicides.[1] Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, has warned that popular social networking sites lead young people to form "transient relationships" which put them at risk of suicide when they collapse.[2] One of the rising research questions being asked by psychologists is where kids are getting the idea of suicidal tendencies. One of the explanations that have risen is the cause and effect relationship between social media advertised suicides and younger generations being influenced by them. One of the reasons behind kids being influenced by suicide tendencies via the internet is the psychological explanation behind "fifteen minutes of fame." Media tends to blow up videos and Facebook status' in order to inform the public of the rising trouble. However the media has yet to taken into consideration the band wagon appeal it brings to the young and immature minds of teenagers. Learning that an action like this can give a teenager, "fifteen minutes of fame" influences other teens who might feel under appreciated to do the same thing in order to gain attention. There was a research study conducted by the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, Australia. This study was conducted in order to research whether there is a correlation between suicidal ideation and social media exposure to suicide stories among young adults (14-24). The study concluded that one of the most mentioned sources of suicide stories were social websites. This in mind, there was also a reported rise in feelings of hopelessness and suicidal tendencies among the participants surveyed. (Dunlop, More, and Romer 2009)

Suicide notes[edit]

It has generally been found that those who post suicide notes online tend to not receive help.[3] Several notable cases support this argument; Paul Zolezzi indicated via a Facebook update his intent to commit suicide.[4] In 2010, John Patrick Bedell left a Wikipedia user page and YouTube videos interpreted by some as a suicide note; the former was deleted by Wikipedia administrators.[5] Joe Stack also posted a suicide note online.[6]

Chris McKinstry, an AI researcher, committed suicide after posting a note to both his blog and the Joel on Software off-topic forum explaining the reasons for his demise, which was discontinued shortly afterwards.

Webcast suicides[edit]

Kevin Whitrick and Abraham K. Biggs webcast both of their suicides.

Suicide pacts[edit]

Gerald Krein[7] and William Francis Melchert-Dinkel were accused of arranging internet suicide pacts.


Demi Moore and her followers intervened to stop a suicide that had been announced on Twitter.[8]

A German was prevented from killing himself after Spanish internet users saw him announcing his decision.[9]

Discussion and support groups[edit]

Some online groups, such as, have emerged as discussion and support groups for suicidal individuals. Research indicates that providing more online support for suicidal people would be more effective than shutting down pro-suicide websites.[10] The Defense Centers of Excellence have expressed interest in using social media for suicide prevention.[11] Facebook groups have sometimes been set up for suicide prevention purposes,[12] including one that attracted 47,000 members.[13]

SAMHSA's Suicide Prevention Lifeline operates on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.[14]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Nick Britten and Richard Savill (23 Jan 2008), Police fear internet cult inspires teen suicides, Telegraph 
  2. ^ Holden, Michael (August 2, 2009), Head of English Catholics warns about emails/texting, Reuters 
  3. ^ Elana Premack Sandler (April 6, 2009), Can Social Media Help Prevent Suicide?, Psychology Today 
  4. ^ Gendar, Alison and Connor, Tracy, Facebook status update becomes suicide note for aspiring Brooklyn model, actor Paul Zolezzi, New York Daily News 
  5. ^ Carlin DeGuerin Miller (March 5, 2010), John Patrick Bedell: Rants on Wikipedia and YouTube May Have Foreshadowed Breakdown, CBS News 
  6. ^ Neil Katz (February 18, 2010), Joe Stack Suicide Note Full Text: "American Zombies Wake Up and Revolt", CBS News 
  7. ^ Sheriff: Online suicide pact had sexual overtones, CNN, February 13, 2005 
  8. ^ Chris Matyszczyk (April 3, 2009), CNet;txt  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^
  10. ^ Online suicide support needed, Science Alert, 3 August 2009 
  11. ^ Harnessing New and Social Media to Prevent Suicide, Defense Centers of Excellence, January 22, 2010 
  12. ^ Elana Premack Sandler (June 16, 2010), Suicide prevention in cyberspace, Psychology Today 
  13. ^ Minsky, Amy, Anti-suicide Facebook group elicits positive messages, The Vancouver Sun 
  14. ^ SAMHSA, Suicide Prevention Lifeline Update 
  15. ^ Dunlop, S., More, E., & Romer, D. (2009, January 1). Where Do Youth Learn about Suicides on the Internet, and What Influence Does this Have on Suicidal Ideation? Retrieved January 1, 2014, from