Social media sites allow people to post suicide pranks, demeaning messages, racial hate, and actual suicides throughout the world. Will it ever end, and is there any way to stop it?
It used to be kids were bullied on the playgrounds, malls, social gathering places, and in schools. Sometimes the teachers could intervene, if they noticed, and help the injured party feel somewhat safer in their environment. However, with the invention of computers and smartphones, all that has changed.
We now have Facebook, chat rooms, forums, YouTube, text messaging, video chat, and other social media platforms. Technology has transformed the way people communicate with each other and the world. Almost everyone uses some form of social media as a way to share information and discuss things.
People post their joys and sorrows on social media, yet there are some who use it as a place to ridicule people or bully them. In some cases, social media acts as a platform to show everyone how you journeyed into death. Social media not only claims the lives of our youth, but it can be used against anyone, at any time.
The latest victim of social media gone wrong is an 11-year-old boy who fell for an elaborately staged social media prank instigated by his girlfriend. The young juvenile girl cleverly devised a way to fake her own suicide death by using her friend’s social media accounts to publicize that she committed suicide on March 14, 2017.
Before her prank ended, Tysen Goss, the 11-year-old boy, took his girlfriend’s suicide claim seriously and hanged himself because he could not live without her. Tysen was found by his mother, who immediately called 911. Emergency teams managed to resuscitate him, but he needed the machines to remain alive. The young man did not make it. He passed away four weeks later in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on April 4, 2017.
— People Magazine (@people) April 7, 2017
Tysen’s mother, Katrina Goss, told People, “I truly don’t know what the point of this prank was. I don’t even know how that’s supposed to be funny, especially if she cared about him at all. I am not sure how that could be a joke. She must have severe psychological issues to go forward with something like that and to keep the joke going even after he told her he was going to kill himself.”
Another tragic death happened in January of 2016 when 13-year-old Nicole Lovell disappeared in the middle of the night. This time, it was not cyber bullying, nor was it suicide. Instead, it was a man who faked his identity to lure and seduce her away from home.
Nicole’s father, David, discovered his daughter frequented various chat rooms.
David told Dr. Phil, “We found out that Nicole had been on social media talking to inappropriate people. For a 13-year-old little girl, I thought some of the things that were said were inappropriate from my daughter. Nicole’s phone was supposed to be taken, disposed of.”
However, David admitted that they returned the phone to Nicole later on.
Nicole Lovell’s social media choice was Kik, a messaging app used by approximately 40 percent of American’s teenage population. Not all the people who use this app are young. Older men with fake profiles use the app as well as they pretend to be young so they can do their devious work.
The man Nicole met that night was a college athlete named Eisenhauer and his 19-year-old friend, Natalie Keepers. The two plotted to lure Nicole out of her house and then kill her. They wanted to keep her from telling anyone about the alleged relationship with Eisenhauer. According to the Huffington Post, Nicole was killed by Eisenhauer and Miss Keepers helped hide the body in the trunk of a car.
Miss Keepers felt no remorse in her part of the crime. Reports state that she felt it was “secretive and special.”
Another craze sweeping across social media platforms like Facebook is live broadcasting of a person actually committing suicide. Naika Venant took a scarf and hung herself while living at her foster parent’s house while she posted a live three-hour stream on Facebook Live.
— STOP-Homophobia.com (@WipeHomophobia) April 7, 2017
Naika Venant received a visit from health and welfare workers when she was just 4-years-old. During their visit, social workers discovered she was being babysat by a male man and there was no food or running water in the house.
Naika was later removed from the home and placed in foster care, where she remained for approximately 28 months. Over a 16-month period, Naika lived in 14 different foster homes.
In 2010, a Miami judge decided an error had been made in removing Naika from her natural mother, Gina Caze, so they let her go back home. Naika was again removed from her home in 2014, only to be returned to her natural mother’s care when social workers thought it was in her best interest.
In 2016, Gina Caze decided that she no longer wanted Naika to live with her, so she relinquished all custody rights. Gina, also known as Gina Alexis on social network sites, kept in contact with her daughter through social media sites.
As Naika posted a live stream of hanging herself in the shower, people sent messages to Child Services and to her mother in an effort to prevent this tragedy. According to the Weekly Challenge, the mother did not believe anyone and thought her daughter was crying wolf.
Someone allegedly used Gina’s Facebook profile to post, “#ADHD games played u sad little DCF custody jit that’s why u where u at for this dumb s–t n more u keep crying wolf u dead u will get buried life goes on after a jit that doesn’t listen to their parents trying to be grown seeking boys and girls attention instead of her books.”
A friend of Naika called police as she watched the live broadcast, but when police arrived, she gave them the wrong address where they could Naika. The people living at that location informed law enforcement the correct foster home address where they could find Naika.
By the time the officers arrived at the location, they found Naika’s body hanging in the shower. Although they tried to resuscitate the 14-year-old, they were unsuccessful.
On a whole, social media plays a vital role in people’s lives. The platform can provide information and help to those suffering, but it can also be a way of promoting suicide, death, and murder. Social media makes it easy for anyone to lie and fake their identity.
Do we need tougher laws and more security measures to keep our children and loved ones safe? Maybe. What ideas do you have that would prevent this from happening when social media platforms are the normal or popular meeting places?
[Featured Image by CHOATphotographer/Shutterstock]