For the generation that has grown up glued to social media, anything goes. Photos and videos of pets, family vacations, friends, selfies, food – and in the case of one Georgia girl, a tragic video documenting her own suicide, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Citing sexual abuse by a family member, 12-year-old Katelyn Nicole Davis hanged herself in her front yard and livestreamed the raw footage to Facebook, the report continues.
Dismayed social media users have contacted the Polk County, Georgia police department requesting removal of the video from social media sites, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The Polk County police responded by encouraging users to report the post to Facebook, citing no legal means of forcing removal of the content, the report continued.
“We want it down as much as anyone for the family and it may be harmful to other kids,” Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd told the media in a report by the Miami Herald. “We contacted some of the sites. They asked if they had to take it down and by law they don’t. But it’s just the common decent thing to do in my opinion.”
YouTube has since removed the 40-minute video, citing non-compliance regarding graphic and violent content, the Washington Post reports. However, the video remained on Facebook for two weeks before content was removed, the report continues. By then, social media users as far away as Europe had seen the tragic live stream of the young girl’s suicide.
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Suicide is the second leading cause of death for children and young adults between the ages of 10 and 24, the Jason Foundation reports, citing Centers for Disease Control figures. Over 5,240 suicide attempts occur each day in this country among youth between the 7th and 12th grades, and four out of five of these young adults give clear warning signs. Furthermore, one out of 12 young Americans has attempted suicide in the past year, according to the CDC.
Another study found that as many as 20 percent of high school students admitted to contemplating suicide, the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide reports.
Given the prevalence of teenage suicide in this country at a vulnerable time in their lives, it is important for parents, educators and other adults to know the risk factors and have open communication with their children as much as possible. Some may not have clear warning signs, and tragedy may still occur; but suicide is often a desperate cry for help that something is wrong. It can often be averted with intervention.
If someone you know is thinking about committing suicide, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 for assistance.