A woman described her final moments of purposely inhaling poisonous fumes on Facebook to nine friends, some of whom begged her stop, reports the Associated Press. Some of those friends attempted to track her down on their own, according to the report.
None of them called the police however, or alerted anyone at all.
Claire Lin, 31, of Taipei, Taiwan died on March 18. “Too late. “My room is filled with fumes,” read Lin’s final post. “I just posted another picture. Even while I’m dying, I still want FB [Facebook]. Must be FB poison. Haha.”
“Be calm, open the window, put out the charcoal fire, please, I beg you,” one friend wrote Lin, who was found by her boyfriend the following morning. Lin’s family only found out about the online conversation after her death. A sociologist quoted in the AP article ascribed the incident to isolation in the Internet age. But as with all such unfortunate stories, the reason is never this simple.
“People may have doubts about what they see on the Internet because of its virtual nature, and fail to take action on it,” Chai Ben-rei, a sociologist at Taiwan’s Feng Chia University, told the AP. Failure to act among friends and loved ones who are faced with suicidal threats is not new to Facebook or even the Internet, however. People in real life are often reluctant or unaware of how to respond.
With Facebook expanding the center of our social life, we increasingly encounter the same fraught issues that stymie us face-to-face.
Such seems to be the case in December 2010 when Simone Back, 42, was found dead in her apartment in Brighton, England following her final message on Facebook: “Took all my pills be dead soon bye bye everyone.” In a discussion that continued for 148 messages underneath Back’s final post, some friends begged for her address, others taunted her. But no one reached out to Back until her mother, Jennifer Langridge, phoned the police after receiving a text message about her daughter’s message 17 hours after it was posted.