Is Social Media Responsible For Depression and Suicide?


This is actually my 100th post here. I had always planned on making a celebratory post, thanking all the contributors to OTH for their hard work along with touching on articles I had enjoyed creating and mentioning future plans. That can now wait. This topic is much, much more important.

With the recent passing of Charlotte Dawson, Australian’s are somewhat currently in shock about what has just happened. I was sitting down watching Frasier with my Mum when, ironically, I was tweeted with the horrible news. Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t know her or have any feelings of attachment to her. But when anyone takes their own life, it’s a tragedy (unless their name is Hitler). I wrote some thoughts about the responsibility that we all have to try and prevent suicide on our Facebook page, but then came the predictable stories on television about the backlash she received on social media and how it contributed to her taking her own life. I guarantee you that for the next week, the attention of the media will be aimed squarely at social media. But is that what has caused this?

Before I go on, I’m aware of the issues she had with twitter (this is why I said ironically earlier) and people telling her to kill herself and horrific things of that nature, and the barrage of abuse she received in there clearly didn’t help her. She let the world know that she suffered from depression, but seemingly, nobody really provided help.

This, honestly, breaks my heart.

But the sadness turned to anger. I saw friends on Facebook and Twitter posting thoughts about her passing, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks: People do care. Nobody with a heart wanted to see this happen, and I’d venture to estimate that 9 out of 10 people in society would stop and help someone if they knew what was going through their mind. Society, and the people living in it, aren’t the problem.

The fact that there is next to nothing in terms of Government funding in this area that has been ignored for far too long, that is the problem. Governments, obviously including the one in Australia, are only concerned with one thing: Money. But here’s a newsflash for Governments around the world: Money isn’t everything. There comes a time where profits need to take a back seat the health of the community that are actually funding governments. I know I’m not alone in what I’m saying here. And, unfortunately, I know Charlotte Dawson isn’t alone in feeling so helpless. How can a Government (and I’m not singling out any particular political party, they’re all shocking in their own way.) justify continually ignoring society’s needs for more mental health institutions and support organisations in the name of saving money? I’ve always had a healthy disregard for Politicians and their ability to remain out of touch with society, but this is getting absurd. I mean, how stupid do they really think we are?

Actually, that last question got me thinking. I’ve often spoken to my Dad about how American’s aren’t as dumb as what we think they are, that they’re just like us in Australia. His counter argument was every time he sees them on TV, and not on reality shows but actual news reports, that they seem to be a step or two behind us. I respond with “I think that’s intentional because it’s more of a story then because it’s hyperbole and attention grabbing, which means higher ratings for the TV networks”. I think I was wrong. The more I think about it right now, I think it is to create a perception that we need these idiot politicians that have no clue about what individuals actually want.

Let me ask you a question: Do you think society is too heavily influenced by the media? Have a think about it… And now, I’ll ask you another question: Are you, as an individual, too heavily influenced by the media?

If your answers from those two questions are different from one another, doesn’t that prove my point? Society is divided, and we’re going around in circles instead of progressing. Why? I hate to say this, but it’s because people in power are consumed by it, and will do anything to keep it. If society progressed, eventually they would lose their power. I believe that humans are not evil and greedy biologically. Hate, greed and power are all social constructs, and all of those “qualities” have become synonymous with humanity and required to be successful in today’s society because it has been pounded into our brains repeatedly since our first days at school until today. The biggest threat to this is the internet. It’s much easier to control content and manipulate thoughts and opinions through one way communication such as TV, Radio and Newspaper where everything is edited and funnelled through those outlets. The internet is a much different story because it allows anyone the ability to voice their own opinion, which is exactly what will be blamed for Charlotte Dawson’s death.

The more I think about it, the worse it appears. In Australia, the treasurer (Joe Hockey) has repeatedly talked about the “Age of entitlement being over”, which has been conveniently coincided with talks of cuts to Medicare (our health system) and also a raise in the pension eligibility age. This is the same guy who compared himself and other politicians to soldiers that have died on the battlefield because politicians have sacrificed their lives for their country. Well, Joe Hockey, the “Sacrifices” you’ve made has created is full of pot holes. When I envision what I see in the future, the trends that are happening in the real world and not some isolated corporate (this includes the world of Politics and Media) where they will cut funding to services that actually help prevent the loss of lives, like mental hospitals, will only get worse. These “servants” have opted and fought tooth and nail to get to where they are now so they could take what they could. They’ve sold all our assets and left future generations with next to nothing and we’re the ones that will have to clean up the mess they’ve made. They look at taxpayer money like it’s their own. It’s not. It’s our fucking money. If the majority of people want healthcare to be universal and not to be touched, how dare they try to tell us we can’t afford it now whilst you refuse to tax billion dollar corporations. How dare they use ridiculous language like the “age of entitlement is over” when referring to services our taxes pay for (like education, health care and aged pension payments) and then continually decide to give themselves pay rises and added bonuses like unnecessary overseas trips.

When my generation gets into power, there will be no “age of entitlement”, just pain as we try to dig our country of the hole that they have left it in. That’s right, you politicians and power hungry CEO’s that would sell your first born if it made financial sense; you’re the ones responsible for this. Normally, I’m very quiet (and reserved) when it comes to politics, but not anymore. Not when I’m seeing people (and not just Charlotte Dawson) taking their lives because they don’t get the support they deserve and more importantly, need, and then try to lecture us that the “age of entitlement is over” and we can’t expect to have healthcare available to those that need it because it’s no longer profitable. Politicians are there to represent the people. That is democracy. They’re not there to represent money. Do your fucking job and stop trying to play this game of deception and hiding the truth.

But go right ahead, keep riding around in your Limousines, flying first or business class and spending money on prostitutes whilst the majority of us are out here, busting our arses, working 60+ weeks to rent a home and survive and you have the nerve to say that we feel we’re entitled because we expect a pension when we retire or healthcare when we need it.

We’ll just blame social media when it all turns pear shaped.