Facebook-causes-suicide story spreads even as facts recede

As noted earlier this week, Facebook and other social networking sites have been blamed for a wave of teen suicides in the UK. This was simply too good a story for the press to pass up — regardless of the facts in the matter.

Now comes word from Down Under that:

Psychologists in Australia have warned about the power of glamorising death through social networking sites in the wake of a spate of suicides in the UK

Translation: A reporter or editor saw the story and said “Localize it!” So someone called around to a bunch of local head shrinkers and asked for their opinions. To no one’s surprise the psychologists said this is a bad thing. No one seems to have told the mental health types the only fact contained in the entire story.

However, a police spokesman in Bridgend said there was no evidence to date of a suicide pact and that the theory did not come from police.

So the news  (a.k.a, the lead) is buried in the fourth paragraph and contradicts the basis for the rest of the article. Thus an accurate headline would read: Cops say suicide pact story is nonsense

What makes the article even better (better here meaning “an improved quality of stupidity) is the fact that the final paragraphs feature a medical person saying stories like this could exacerbate the problem.

Dr Jonathon Scourfield, a lecturer in social sciences, said cultural and social influences were influential in the decision to commit suicide.

“The more stories that appear about young people having killed themselves in your area, the more it might appear to you to be a reasonable response to a particular kind of crisis,” he said.

Sometimes it is difficult to remember that the only thing worse than having a free press is not having one.

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4 thoughts on “Facebook-causes-suicide story spreads even as facts recede

  1. Pingback: El Mike’s Internet News Blog » Blog Archive » Facebook? Suicide? That’s All I Need… Don’t Bother Me With Facts…

  2. Pingback: Bill Gates » Facebook? Suicide? That’s All I Need… Don’t Bother Me With Facts…

  3. Pingback: Trying to Be like Bill Gates » Wi-Fi mesh lights up Mecca for Hajj (InfoWorld)

  4. The news isn’t about a suicide PACT. It’s about internet assisted suicide. People getting involved in the idea of suicide online and then going for it on their own. Not people organising a group suicide. I guess the news is just what you want them to be huh.

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