Watching A Suicide On Twitter

by Patrick on January 13, 2010


Photo courtesy of Flickr user dean812

Please keep @Beccas43 in your prayers, currently in the ER for potential drug overdose.

That was a tweet I saw last Thursday night from social media enthusiast/fellow Asian Forrest W. Kobayashi. When I asked him if he knew Beccas43 he told me it was a story he saw through his Twitter network. When I investigated further I saw that one of Beccas43′s last tweets read, “I just took a large quantity of xanax. This could be interesting.”

Reading through some of  her previous tweets, my initial hunch turned into a disturbing reality: this wasn’t an overdose but a suicide attempt.

Amongst all the intimate details of our lives that we share in today’s social media world, I found it very disturbing to read the possible last words of this unknown woman. It is one of the most revealing moments I’ve witnessed online. I could see her cry for help, the same cry we see when anybody decides to take their own life be it in a private act or in a more public fashion.

Living in DC I hear stories of those who deliberately take their own lives by stepping in front of a moving Metro train. Now with The Internet, some are using it when committing suicide- akin to the public act of jumping off a bridge or tall building.

But what is more amazing is how others banded together to try and help this person. Others Twitter users, worked to find out who this unknown user was. Some doubted if this was a real attempt, but knew it was better to be embarrassed than left wondering what if. I read tweets that sprung up quickly after Beccas43′s last tweet- asking for help. Using the vast information available online, someone managed to find out who Beccas43 was. Another managed to call 911 and get the police and an Ambulance over to her place. News of Beccas43 traveled far enough that it attracted the attention of Alyssa Milano.

Authorities managed to get Beccas43 to a hospital just in time, saved by online strangers.

This story has many different angles: The Internet’s ability to connect others or disseminate and discover information; the level of isolation and loneliness in today’s online world; the use of The Internet as a public stage. None of these however is the real reason I wanted to write this post.

As interesting as this story is, in the end it comes down to the inherent good people have for each other. Despite how social media has created crowds desperate to attract attention to themselves, there are moments where we instead see a basic, decent, human value to help one another.

  • brad

    Immense sadness. Also, stark proof that we’re still just people despite all the tech-savvy masks we’ve learned to wear in the last decade.

    • Patrick

      Exactly, it is a sad story but I instead look to the good that came out of it.

  • Lusty Reader

    that is SERIOUSLY disturbing but i remember a story last year about a girl in DC who was mugged, assaulted, and had her phone stolen outside her home, she went in and tweeted asking people to call 911 and they did. crazy.
    .-= Lusty Reader´s last blog ..Three Days to Dead, by Kelly Meding =-.

    • Patrick

      I recall that story as well- amazing what we do now a days thanks to Twitter.

  • lemmonex

    Oye…this kinda shit makes me think we all need to take a step back from social media and start focusing on our real lives…though I guess this is real life.

    • Patrick

      I think for some social media has allowed those to reach out to others- when they can’t in real life.

  • Suburban Sweetheart

    This is fascinating. What better way to prove that people care and that life is worth it? The power of total strangers to band together is truly amazing. Thanks for writing this.

    • Patrick

      You’re welcome Ms. Sweetheart- I’m about to write another story a week later.

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