By Dana C. Ayres
Social media, in many ways, for teenagers, has replaced the hallway in between classes, the lunchroom and the locker room. It serves as a place of free expression…a place where a kid can become any alter ego they choose and live out that persona online. They get to pick the avatar that best suits their image of whom they are or who they want to be. In such a magical and mystical place, it’s easy to read people’s comments and take for granted that the whole social media “thing” is just a fun way to send messages, tweet thoughts and keep in touch over long distances…or standing right next to each other. But, surprisingly, for some people, many of them teenage males, social media is more than just harmless fun; it could be a means to an end when crying out for help. We subconsciously become callous and dismissive without ever really taking into account that social media is a last, desperate resort for some people…
And we miss the signs and the messages…
Billy Watts a.k.a. “DJ Kill Bill,” was a 17-year old senior at Renaissance High School in Detroit, Michigan. According to Marlinpage.com, Watts, by all accounts was a vibrant, brilliant and creative young man. However, he was also quite troubled. Apparently, Watts had been battling depression for months. He meticulously orchestrated and played out every event that led up to his eventual suicide on social media…in front of thousands. He even took a picture of his last meal! Billy Watts committed suicide in October, 2014 when he dove into the Detroit River. Now, fast forward to Spring, 2015 and the desperate tweets of a heartbroken and mentally abused Bobbi Kristina Brown are made just moments before she is found face-down and drowning in a bathtub of water in her Roswell, Georgia home. She was desperately reaching out to a friend for help in order to escape an unstable, unfaithful and abusive, Nick Gordon.
According to Sandarose.com, text messages Brown exchanged with a friend in the hours before she drowned revealed her sadness and desperation. Brown and the friend made plans for her to go to her friend’s home — away from Gordon.
“Hey baby I miss you so much. Sorry I’ve been working so much lately. I saw you called me last night,” Brown’s friend texted.
“Hey babe boo boo. Yeah I’m sad … It’s about Nick,” Brown replied in a text.
“Yeah I just seriously don’t know what to do about him,” she added. “You know how he is. I care about him but I’m so sick of the fighting and him telling me what I can and can’t do. Plus what I found out … I’m devastated … I need my BFF baby love.”
Whether it’s a high profile celebrity or obscure and troubled youth, all life matters and social media has taken up the charge to provide safe spaces for teenagers, adults, men, women…whoever, to enter and share their pain, hopefully before it’s too late. One such site is Reddit, an online posting site, has revolutionized how it deals with the issue of suicide prevention. According to Slate.com, Reddit, has a posting space or “subreddit” called SuicideWatch where people who need to reach out can do so in a space with others, like themselves, who can provide peer support. It operates reverse of a suicide hotline by providing the like-minded group that could possibly lead to more specialized help as opposed to vice versa. The site got its start after early Reddit power users started noticing people roaming the site, leaving comments about being suicidal and depressed, they launched dedicated subreddits to give users the space to share their feelings and connect with one another. Now, nearly 35,000 people are subscribed to SuicideWatch.
Slate.com also provided hotline numbers and clever ways to Google information pertaining to suicide prevention. “When you Google “I want to die” in the U.S., the search engine spits back the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK FREE). The lifeline’s Twitter handle is @800273TALK.
Learning to see the messages and the signals of a severely depressed or suicidal individual is gravely serious. If you know someone who may need help, before you step in, get some guidance by calling the toll free NSPL or contacting a licensed professional. That person’s life may be hanging in the balance.
Below are the last precious moments of Billy’s life, right before his tragic death.