1,000 friends, but not one of them helped her
Mother's anger as woman posts suicide note on Facebook before killing herself
Thursday 06 January 2011
The mother of a middle-aged woman who announced her intention to commit suicide to more than 1,000 of her Facebook friends has angrily demanded why not a single one of them came to her aid before she died.
Simone Back, 42, from Brighton, took an overdose of pills on Christmas Day and posted a brief suicide note that evening on the social networking site expressing her intention to die. Friends who lived outside the city urged others in Brighton to check on her, but the calls went unread or unheeded. Police found her the next day and she was pronounced dead in hospital.
Her 60-year-old mother, Jennifer Langridge, was only alerted to the Facebook message on Boxing Day afternoon, 17 hours after her daughter's original posting. She dialled 999 but when police broke into the flat, Ms Back was already unconscious.
"Nobody told me anything about it until the following day when I was sent a text saying: 'get help'," Ms Langridge said. "It is upsetting to think nobody did anything for my daughter." Ms Langridge, who is disabled and has limited mobility, said she believed more could have been done to help her daughter.
"Normally when she takes overdoses I get help for her," Ms Langridge said. "I watched my daughter go from a lovely young woman to what she ended up as: someone who didn't smile."
Friends also expressed anger that Ms Back's threat to kill herself was not taken more seriously. Samantha Pia Owen, 48, from Southampton, said: "Somebody could have helped. They were all posting how much they care for her but someone should have at least popped round to see that she was OK.
"Everyone just carried on arguing with each other on Facebook like it wasn't happening. Some of those people lived within walking distance of Simone. If one person just left their computer and went to her house her life could have been saved."
Postings on Ms Back's Facebook page reveal that many of her friends did not take her suicide threats seriously because she had threatened to kill herself on previous occasions. At 10.53pm on Christmas Day, Ms Back posted the suicide note, part of which read: "Took all my pills be dead soon so bye bye every one."
A series of messages were then left on the same thread, with some of her friends expressing concern about whether Ms Back had gone through with her threat. One wrote: "did ya'll catch the part about simone taking a shytload of pills??... the 'bye bye' part?? Did anyone go by personally and check on simone... or call 9/11?? What's wrong with you people??"
Another friend replied: "She does it all the time, takes all of her pills." Others urged people to go round to Ms Back's flat. "If any of you lot actually call youself a friend one of you should call around and see if shes ok, so glad I don't personally know any of you, heartless," wrote one.
Initial reports from friends suggested that Ms Back had been the victim of cyber-bullying, but later posts from friends say she had recently split up with her girlfriend.
Her Facebook page was filled with tributes and messages of support yesterday. One read: "Dearest Simone... May you have found peace at last. You will be greatly missed but your legacy will go on."
A spokeswoman from the mental health charity Mind said suicide threats should be taken seriously: "It is a myth that people who talk about suicide don't go through with it. They are very likely to have spoken about their feelings of desperation to others."
A spokesperson from Facebook said: "We were deeply saddened to hear of the recent suicide of Simone Back. We have a close working relationship with the Samaritans and have a process in place whereby friends and family who are concerned about someone can report it to us through the Help Centre.
"A team of trained professionals are then able to review the case and the Samaritans will make contact with the person at risk. The safety of people who use Facebook is of paramount importance to us and this system is just one of number of tools we have in place to help them stay safe."
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