Earlier this week I re-tweeted a BBC Dorset news story about the sudden deaths of two young people in Dorset. The report gave the location of the place where the deaths had occurred. 

A short while after clicking on the retweet button I noticed another tweet complaining that the BBC Tweet had not followed the advice of a ‘Suicide Reporting Toolkit’ and was recommending it to them by sharing a link. Consequently, the BBC report was updated and the location of the place where the deaths took place was removed. 

I was interested in the ‘Toolkit’, which has been developed by Dr. Ann Luce, at Bournemouth University, who has expertise in responsible and ethical reporting of suicide.

I then asked myself the question: Why did I click the re-tweet button to share the BBC Tweet?

Even though I have previously been educated in the etiquette of sharing details of death tragedy and grief on social media by Professor Carla Sofka, (who calls this ’Netiquette’) I still instinctively shared the story. 

WHY did I do this? I was wrong, I should have known better. 

The following day I noticed that Dorset Police were also using social media to appeal for information about the last known movements of the two young people who had died, but their tweet did not include the location of the deaths. 

I looked at my Twitter feed again and saw that there were many news agencies tweeting articles about the Dorset deaths, it wasn’t trending, but it had become a popular news article to share on social media. I felt annoyed by this, and cross with myself for being so insensitive and subsequently deleted my re-tweets. However, I noticed that some Twitter users were using the news story to advertise their business! This shocked me and was the reason for writing this blog post, which may be seen as just another form of attention to the teenage deaths, but I wanted to explain how I initially reacted to the news story and how I have reflected on my actions in casually retweeting a news article about someone’s death. 

Here is the link to the Suicide Reporting Toolkit and Carla Sofka’s Netiquette advice. 

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