An Alabama man committed suicide Tuesday while reportedly live streaming on Facebook, and local authorities said they personally haven’t seen anything like it.
“This was a first for us,” Anthony Lowery, assistant chief deputy with the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office, told USA Today, referring to someone taking their own life on a live streaming platform. “I hope this isn’t a trend starting. It’s one thing to commit suicide. It’s another thing to victimize other people.”
A friend of James Jeffrey, 49, notified police that she was worried he might hurt himself. As officers were on their way to Jeffrey’s location, emergency dispatchers started receiving calls from people who said they witnessed a suicide on Facebook Live. When law enforcement arrived, they discovered Jeffrey had already shot himself in the head.
Facebook Live and similar live streaming services have been a heated topic recently, as a number of people have committed suicide while using the technology, possibly indicating a nascent trend.
Two different young girls, both under 15, took their own lives while using a live streaming service. A young actor did the same, committing suicide in Los Angeles earlier this year while using Facebook Live.
And it’s not just suicide that people are worried about.
Three men in Sweden were imprisoned Tuesday for their participation in a gang rape in January, which was reportedly streamed live on Facebook.
A Cleveland gunman shot and killed an elderly man and then posted the content on Facebook earlier this month. It was originally reported that the assailant (popularly known as the “Facebook Killer”) used Facebook Live. But after some investigation, the social media company clarified that the perpetrator did not use the live streaming service for the actual killing, and posted the disturbing video after. (RELATED: Facebook Killer’s Girlfriend Makes First Public Statement)
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg took time to address the situation last week since the footage was still available for a brief moment on the social media platform.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Robert Godwin Sr., and we have a lot of work — and we will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening,” Zuckerberg said.
Facebook announced in early March that it plans on introducing several new features to help prevent suicides, including embedding “live chat support from crisis support organizations” on its own Messenger app.
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