Just about one month ago, an avid reddit user proclaimed that he was about to commit suicide with this post. The user, which went by the name of “Black_Visions”, had been suicidal for some time, and decided to follow through with it.
Unfortunately, some of the responses to his post on reddit weren’t so kind. I can’t tell exactly what was said, because a lot of the posts are now deleted, probably because we’ve now found out that this wasn’t a hoax. The man, whose real name is Jerry, followed through with his suicide.
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It appears as if Jerry’s family wants to hold reddit users who egged on the suicidie accountable for his death. His sister posted the legal intentions of her family on reddit last night:
Our family has decided to take legal action not only against his ex-wife, but those who urged him on to take his own life. Next week, our lawyer will be filing a wrongful death suit in Washington State against nine individuals. Our lawyer hired a private investigator and three of the individuals have been identified from those who urged Jerry to kill himself. Subpoenas will be issued to find the identity of the other three, though it is possible that they were the same people. We don’t know yet. We were told by our lawyer not to give any other information out such as our full names or the people to be named in the lawsuit.
Obviously, Jerry’s family is extremely upset by the fact that he’s no longer with them. Suicide is an extremely hot topic, and the fact that Jerry shared some of his plans in a public forum makes this an even more difficult situation. The fact that the family will be hitting reddit with a subpoena for information is also key to note.
Reddit actually has a subreddit called “SuicideWatch” where people can air out their issues and get support from the community. It’s unfortunate that Jerry didn’t seek out assistance before he decided to jump from the 8th story of his hotel.
There is a lot to be learned from this situation, but what could the reddit community have done better when faced with something like this? As we know, people handle crisis situations in a number of ways, and they’re not always helpful. For example, it only takes some folks on Twitter minutes to start making jokes about celebrities who have passed away.
People act a fool online because they feel like they can’t get in trouble for it. But can they be held accountable like Jerry’s sister says they should be? Does telling someone to go ahead and commit suicide in an online, and mostly anonymous, forum break a law?
What I could tell from reading the thread on Jerry’s final post is that a lot of reddit users did try to change his mind and urged him to get help. I’d rather focus on the folks who did the right thing, rather than the few trolls who did the wrong thing. If charges are indeed brought against these users, it will be a closely watched case that could set all types of precedents for future situations like this.
If you or someone you know is suicidal, immediately take them seriously and urge them to talk to someone and get help.