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Suicidal Postings On Facebook

(Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - A Facebook posting of a 42-year-old British woman was ominous – “Took all my pills so be dead soon Bye Bye.” At the time she had over 1000 Facebook friends, not one of whom picked up the phone to call her, or authorities or her mother, she died.

What is your legal obligation to call authorities in that situation?

The popularity of Social Networking has simultaneously allowed people to become technologically interconnected but socially distanced. Even people that lived in the same neighborhood as the woman who posted her suicide note didn’t think to place a phone call.

They could not be charged with a crime because there’s no legal duty to rescue someone even whereas so doing would have posed no danger to the rescuer.

It’s a growing phenomenon that people who used to reach out by telephone to friends or a suicide hotline now post their pain online. So even absent a legal duty, consider your moral obligation if you should see a suicide posting online, act like not a Facebook friend but a real one.