Niall Mulrine

Technology: Are memorial pages for Cyber-bully victims a welcome or distraction?

Ronan Hughes GAA 11-6-15 Coalisland cyberbully victim

Ronan Hughes GAA 11-6-15 Coalisland cyberbully victim

IN THE wake of another suicide to cyber-bullying in Coalisland of Ronan Hughes, we have seen an unprecedented amount of activity on Facebook after the bully victim has taken their own life. RIP Facebook Pages are souvenirs for people who either know the victim well or have not met the deceased but are compassionate to the surroundings of the case. Either way the question is; does these pages stand for positive experiences or negative?

Supports in Ireland available
I cast your minds back to 2012, when we had an astonishing amount of teenagers taking their own lives in response to online abuse they suffered. From their deaths, came lots of discussions and questions on what can be done to prevent such a tragedy. I do not think it will ever be stopped, but someway with everyone’s support we can curtail the effects of online bullying. Many charities and organisations are out there established to help people who need help in a crisis time of their lives. Sometimes it is only an ear to listen that may make a difference to someone holding on to their lives or letting go. One such charity that helps people in crisis, suicidal thoughts and self-harm is Pieta House which has currently 9 services in in Ireland. Other charities include Sosad (Save our Sons and Daughters) with focus on parents, BodyWhys who offer online support for eating disorder issues, including an online group counselling service, Childline which provides a range of support services online including a live chat service and Samaritans Ireland we know well over the years provides emotional support for people in crisis. With all the supports out there, we cannot forget the close love support from a close friend or family member.

Glamour or sympathy?

Many authorities and groups often dispute the attention suicide brings to a community. Do they talk about it or ignore it? Some of the old school would believe to let things lie and get on with life, where the modern approach is to talk about it, discuss and hopefully help. Is there too much glamour in the media when people take their lives? Does it sensualise the act of suicide to young easily influenced children? The youngest recorded suicide was 6 year old US girl Samantha Kubersk who took her life in 2009 which leads to thought that a child is never too young to have thoughts like these. In 2011 and 2012, parents gave out about the amount of media attention that some well know teenage suicides received in the media and social media. The thought was the more it was in the news, it gave ideas on how others could make themselves famous. Part of that might have been the case with the Bridgend teenagers who all used hanging to die and wanted last claim of fame before death. One of those was Natasha Randall (pictured below) who took their lives as part of a gang who made a united pact. But no one will ever fully know.


Ronan Hughes Facebook Page
Ronan Hughes died 5th June at his home in Coalisland, Co. Tyrone, Ireland after suffering online torment from anonymous people who may have blackmailed him. Whatever happened in Ronan’s online life, took the downfall of his offline life. The event is tragic and a reminder on how dangerous things can get online when connected to the wrong people. But the reaction to a Facebook page setup in his memory has 2 strands of emotions; anger and sorrow. From the anger, the people are casting their feelings over the bullies who are involved in this tragic loss and want retaliation or justice. Some of the comments are below from the Facebook page that convey anger and sorrow. But does the page serve a purpose?

Is Facebook the congregation centre for aftermaths?
Is it more to do with the situation or the person who passed away? For the people that had no idea who the victim was, will comment on how “Heaven took an angel too early” because of their age and maybe less on fact how they would of known them. Its human nature, we don’t need to know the family of a bereaved one to sympathise. We try to extend our kind thoughts and prayers, as we don’t know what else we can do. It has been part of Irish society for decades, maybe centuries and it’s no different now but how we express these emotions are changing. We now have Social Media to increase our reach to more people. Facebook being the most popular of social media platforms with almost 1 million Irish youths between age of 13 and 18 is where we are expressing these thoughts now.
Bullying can take place on Facebook memorial pages

All too much thoughts are often expressed and people’s opinions become a catalyst for a debate. Over the past few years, I have come across YouTube and Facebook pages dedicated to people who passed away from taking their own lives. The bulk of the messages on these sites are expressing concerns over the tragedy, whilst other people are just being curious to what happened, by asking lots of details of the death. Some people’s lives have changed for the worse over a few accusations online of unsupported victimisation of certain tragedies. Remember when casting your finger at someone online, an eager audience who want to jump on bandwagon of blame will sound follow your casting. So be impeccable with your word especially online.

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