Failing as a Friend

I think this sad story from across the pond offers an "Exhibit A" of Friend Fail:

...Forty-two year-old Simone Back announced her intention to commit suicide in a status update on Facebook--and not one of her over 1,000 Facebook friends reached out in person to help.


According to the Daily Mail, Back, who committed suicide on Christmas Day, wrote in her Facebook status, "Took all my pills be dead soon bye bye everyone."


What followed was a series of callous posts from some of Back's Facebook friends. The Telegraph writes, "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."


Back's mother told the Daily Mail that none of her daughter's online friends attempted to help her in person. The Daily Mail explains,


While some Facebook friends from out of town begged online for her address and telephone number so they could get help, none of those who lived closer did anything to help.


Miss Back's friend, Samantha Pia Owen, said: "Everyone just carried on arguing with each other on Facebook like it wasn't happening. Some of those people lived within walking distance of Simone."
Since it was Christmas, I'd guess that many of her 1,000 friends probably did not see her suicidal post on Facebook.   

In any event, can you imagine someone reading that message and then taking time to respond with a comment that mocks the victim? 

Really?

I'd hope that this awful example of failure to render aid (not in a legal sense but by lack of common sense) causes those folks involved to do some serious personal reflection and soul searching--as they still have time to make positive contributions in this world, unlike Ms. Back.

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I hope everyone has a good weekend.

26 comments:

Theresa Milstein said...

That's just horrible. Where are people's compassion?

Stina Lindenblatt said...

That is sad. I'm on FB, but I don't check it out much (too busy with other things). But the fact that her message caused a debate yet no one nearby did anything is sad.

Matthew Rush said...

This is the sad, effed up world we lived in. It's weird too, because I actually just got recently thanked by a FB friend for being the only one to wish him Merry Christmas. He was apparently having a pretty bad one had even said so earlier on FB (which I didn't see).

Anyway this is despicable.

Diane said...

Very sad. No one was really there for her when she needed it the most.

BobKat said...

Struck a nerve here Slam ...

RE: FB; Not mature yet... a social network, not a support community; not surprised by the failure to act.

@ the nerve: In 1979 I was back from an extended trip to AZ... back home, with two friends, one (a woman) who had previously attempted suicide, and a older male friend, out on the town, and went to find a close female friend - long story (read about on my blog).

She, Diane, worked the night-shift at a fast food place. The reunion was not nice... after I said "Hi", Diane looked at me and said, "you shouldn't be here, I'm going to kill myself this morning."

We three were stunned... as I had prior knowledge that was her goal eventually, I took her seriously. I begged her not to, gave her my address and told her to stop over, call, anything but end her life.

Neither of my two friends knew what to say. Should we have called the police???

Diane never stopped by or called. In the morning she was dead.

Later, I spoke with a college prof., who was also a close friend, and I said "...surely, I should have been able to stop her!"

He said, "no. It was her choice. You begged her not to, you did all you could."

To this day, it still haunts me...

Suzanne said...

Such a sad thing, both the girl committing suicide and the friends who did not try to reach out and help her.

squadcartheology said...

Unfortunately I see this as indicative of the society we live in. Superficial, a complete lack of empathy, self-absorbed. Not that I feel everyone, or even most, fall in that category, but enough to cause me to believe that society as an aggregate cannot be relied upon to act rationally or beyond its own perceived immediate self interest.

Travel Nurse Extraordinaire said...

I believe that social networking is honestly a mirror of real life. Among these sites as in real life There are many different levels of maturity and disturbed people who would allow their "friend" to take their own life.

It's simply not possible to make any sense of suicide. No matter how hard you try. People in that state are unable to think rationally but I do agree. It is a sad sad tragedy when someone is within help but no one is able to save them. Then there are those pathetic people who rather write cruel responses than do something to stop them.

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
This is despicable. And frightening.
The last call for help, and no one to drop by.

The question is also, what the non-Fb friends/family knew and what they did or didn't do.

Self-absorption didn't start on Fb. That said, I am not on it and don't intend to be. And as Matthew notes, it may be hard to see everything when your friend list is so high, and as the Lt. says,

when it is so self-interested.

So terrible.
Ann T.

P.S. BobKat, that is a terrible story for you. I do think you tried. Best to you.

Ann T.

Jen said...

I've seen a lot of nasty comments on Facebook. It saddens, but does not surprise me.

terri said...

What is it about FaceBook that makes people forget that they are still dealing with real people in the real world? This story is absolutely heart breaking.

Hilary said...

Sad for sure. I do think that there have been a large number of folks who have been saved from suicide or health woes because of social networks. I've heard far more positive stories about help arriving because of caring online friends. The bad stories do take the limelight when they happen though.

jodeeluna said...

Wow, what a tragic story and important reminder. Someone very close to me received an email from her friend that sounded like a "good bye," as if leaving this world. My friend didn't understand the severity of this email. The person was saying good bye before they took their life. This was a chilling reminder for me of how important it is to take people seriously.

Maxi said...

The fact that this woman posted her intention to commit suicide on FB for everyone to see was a cry for help.

The reality that no one cared enough to be there for her is a reflection of the world in which we live.

We can change this … one by one.

aconnectiontomyheart said...

It is gut wrenching to read.. 46, they write is the worst year in a person's life.. - mid life crisis? But, either ways, 42 is f'n too young.. Excuse my French!
Deeply disturbing..
@Bobkat: Horrifying, sorry to hear about your friend.

Stephen Tremp said...

I never could understand stories like this. I'd take some kind of action right away. Call the police. I'm sure by now most departments have a way of tracking these people's physical address.

Jeanette Levellie said...

How awful. Those are not true Friends.

Kimi said...

I don't have a FB account, but I've heard from family/friends that the amount of people listed as "friends" aren't really all their friends, but the fact of the matter is her cry for help, esp. on a social network like FB should have sent a signal to someone. That's truly unfortunate. Any signs of suicide noticed should be taken seriously and not as a joke. What does this tell me about online networking? The personal connection is missing and we should take care not to get so absorbed in the awesome and spectacular "above the world" gadgets and even how many "friends" we make online that we forget to reach out to people by calling or visiting. Doing things in-person says a lot more and reaching out in action speaks louder than words. I wonder if Ms. Back's family noticed anything unusual about her prior to the incident? One thing is certain: don't take your family members for granted. Show them you care and never stop reaching out to them even if they might not want you to. I truly am enlightened by this story. Thanks for sharing, SD, as always.

SuziCate said...

That is so sad...social networking has seriously desensitized people. They have lost that up close and personal connection.

brittac said...

Oh so good to be back to blog world.

This is such a horrible story, but it has a good lesson to be learned.

brittac said...

Oh so good to be back to blog world.

This is such a horrible story, but it has a good lesson to be learned.

suz said...

I use FB as a personal "favorites" page; I follow a few websites, and I've reconnected with relatives and friends from HS and college. I have fewer than 40 FB friends, and I have far more than FB in common with each of them - they are REAL friends. I'm saddened but not surprised that almost none of 1000 friends tried to help; most people's FB friends aren't really friends, just an audience.

secret agent woman said...

When people have that many FB "friends" they rarely actually know many of them at all, and certainly not most of them well. And it's a perfect example of diffusion of responsibility. If a whole bunch of people are witnesses, then no one takes any responsibility. Had she called or texted or emailed that information to anyone, I am guessing she'd have gotten a response that would have saved her life. It's sad, but one status update buried on a site where jokes are the norm isn't the way to get help. Maybe that choice was intentional.

James (SeattleDad) said...

That's terrible. I just it underscores that 'friends' online are just titles and that does not equate to real friends.

Momma Fargo said...

Just when I think I've heard it all....people always amaze me with their ugliness.

Helen@Babies shoes said...

Unfortunately this does not come as much of a surprise to me