Social Suicide: A Digital Context for Self-Harm and Suicidal Ideation
In August 2013 a British teenager’s death by suicide was claimed by the girl’s grieving father and the international media as a direct consequence of cyberbullying via social media. The platform for the alleged abuse was a Q&A forum Ask.fm, which facilitates the asking and answering of questions from known and anonymous contacts, in addition to generic questions posed by the site administrators. In the days following her death, the girl’s father opened a petition calling for the government to develop stricter regulation of social media forums, and statements were issued by the chief executive of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and the Department of Education (DfE), condemning the perpetrators of what was perceived to be cyberbullying. Within days of the girl’s suicide, however, representatives of Ask.fm publicly stated that 98 per cent of the bullying messages originated from a computer with the same internet provider (IP) address as that of the deceased. In the inquest that followed, the coroner ruled that the evidence indicated that this was indeed the case; the 15-year-old girl had trolled her own Ask.fm profile page before taking her own life.
KeywordsYoung People Suicidal Ideation Eating Disorder Focus Group Participant Public Realm
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