ideas, innovations and apps for social work in the age of smartphones and social media
On 22 September 2010, at 8.42pm, Tyler Clementi updated his Facebook status: “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry.” In the days leading up to the Rutgers University student’s suicide, he had discovered his roommate, Dharun Ravi, had been spying on him through a hacked webcam connection and had been discussing his sexuality on Twitter and Facebook. Last month, a jury in New Jersey convicted Ravi of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation . He faces up to ten years in jail and possible deportation to India. The intricacies of the case have raised serious issues surrounding hate crimes, questioning the role of social media in cyber bullying.
But what about their capacity as tools for prevention?
College students and adolescents now congregate in online social networks just as much as they do in dormitory common rooms. So organizations like the National Suicide Prevention LifeLine seek to be present in these environments. The LifeLine recently developed a Facebook chat add-on that enables users to report updates to Facebook that they feel are indicative of suicidal behavior. These then trigger a connection to a trained counselor. The service functions in ostensibly the same manner as the LifeLine’s telephone service, which took its first call in January of 2005.