1. 14-year-old girl in foster care commits suicide on Facebook Live
"I am sick and devastated by this," Nakia Venant's biological mother, Gina Alexis, said.
Witnesses watched Nakia's Facebook Live stream about 3 a.m. Sunday as she hanged herself in a bathroom.
"We know this happened while the parents were sleeping," attorney Howard Talenfeld said.
Talenfeld blames the Department of Children and Families for ignoring the warning signs and failing to properly place Nakia, who recently began exhibiting unruly behavior, had run away from home and was even hospitalized under the Baker Act at one point.
"When you have a 7-year-old girl sexually abused by a 14-year-old boy, there are bound to be issues," Talenfeld said.
Alexis, who lost custody of Nakia when the girl was 7 over harsh disciplinary tactics, had hoped to be permanently reunited with her daughter.
DCF Secretary Mike Carroll responded to the incident in a statement, saying, "We are absolutely horrified and devastated by the news of this young girl's death. We will do everything we can to support this family and all those who cared for her as they begin to heal from this tragedy."
The Miami Gardens Police Department is investigating the death.
2. Alameda County dispatchers stop Facebook Live suicide in New York
A crisis center in Idaho — where the woman used to live — talked to her early in the morning and were led to believe she was in Alameda County. They called the East Bay dispatch center about 6:30 a.m., said Sgt. Ray Kelly, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office.
It turned out the woman was not in California or Idaho, but actually New York.
“The ball was in our court and we had to figure out what to do,” Kelly said. “There’s not really a game plan in terms of how to do this, but there are certain mechanisms in place, certain technology we can use.”
The quick-thinking Alameda County dispatchers obtained series of phone “pings” through a request from telephone companies to triangulate the woman’s position. The pings placed her in Rockville Centre, on New York’s Long Island. The dispatchers notified police there about the incident, Kelly said.
As they monitored her Facebook, the East Bay dispatchers suddenly saw the woman go “live” as she cut herself in a car and talked about wanting to take her life.
“Where once people left suicide notes or messages, law enforcement is now seeing people actually recording their deaths,” Kelly said. “Obviously that’s disturbing, but in a certain way it can be good because it’s an immediate notification to friends and family that something bad is going on. In this case, we were able to save someone’s life. Maybe it’s a double-edged thing.”
Using another “ping,” and matching the woman’s surroundings on the Facebook Live video to those of Google Maps street views, dispatchers were able to give Rockville Centre police officers the exact street where the woman was located.
When they got to her car, she was unconscious, but the officers were able to get her medical help and to a hospital. The woman is now stable and getting psychological treatment, Kelly said.
3. A heartbroken Turkish man shoots himself on Facebook Live
The shirtless man is seen talking to his webcam while holding a shotgun. He says, “No one believed when I said I would kill myself—so watch this.” His first attempt fails as his gun jams. Viewers try to get him to stop, but he fires again and, this time, succeeds. His body was discovered by relatives, who rushed him to a hospital where he died 12-hours later.
4. Thousands watched St. Paul teen's apparent suicide attempt on Facebook live
And as she livestreamed on Facebook, the teen appeared to be trying to.
A large number of people began calling police last week, trying to get help to her. Many of them didn’t know the girl. Some did, and they offered up her name and possible places where officers could find her.
St. Paul police rushed to one residence; she didn’t live there anymore. They eventually found her at another. The teen, who said in the video that she was drinking a poisonous substance, denied to officers that she had. Paramedics took her to a hospital for evaluation.
Her name is not being used because of the sensitive nature of the incident. Efforts to reach her and her family were unsuccessful.
What should such people do in this nightmarish Internet scenario? And what should the online services that are hosting this content do?
Written posts about suicide aren’t new, but the issue is taking on greater urgency with the advent of video-streaming services like Facebook Live and Twitter Periscope that can be used to stage a suicide or other harrowing live event for all the world to watch.
There were more than 18,000 people watching the St. Paul girl’s livestream, said St. Paul Police Sgt. Mike Ernster. While it appears dozens called police, that was “not as much as you would hope,” the department spokesman said.
“It’s a tough situation,” he added. “Some people see these things and they don’t know where people live or how to get in contact with the local authorities to find this person. It’s such a private incident happening in such a public realm, but it’s a challenge of the new social media world.”
In May, a 19-year-old French woman used Periscope to broadcast the hours leading up to her suicide, as well as the event itself. In truncated YouTube archives of the video, the feed is eventually cut by a frowning man who looks like an emergency worker. In comments, viewers wondered why the stream wasn’t ended sooner.
This is a big problem for the likes of Periscope and Facebook that still largely depend on users to bring such troubling content to its attention when it appears.
Dan Reidenberg, executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) in Bloomington, was among a small group of experts who worked with Facebook to update the resources it provides to people who may be having suicidal thoughts, as well as to concerned friends and relatives. Facebook rolled them out in June.
With Facebook’s tools, a user can reach out directly to someone who seems troubled, contact a helpline, or report this situation to the social network — all with a few clicks.
“We have teams working around the world — 24/7 — who review reports that come in,” Facebook said in a post in June.
Facebook says people should call local emergency services immediately if they know someone is in crisis.
That’s what happened in St. Paul last week. A teen started a Facebook livestream late one night. She looked distraught and spoke into the camera: “I’m done, I’m done, I’m done, I’m done!”
She began drinking a liquid after about 20 minutes of her 90-minute livestream.
At various times, she appeared to be reading aloud comments that people were leaving on her post. Some seemed to egg her on and questioned what she really drank.
Take threats seriously
People who see others talking about suicide “should always take it seriously, because too often people don’t and they end up going to a funeral,” Reidenberg said.
Others comments that the teen read were supportive and sympathetic. At one point, she gave out her phone number and the calls began pouring into her, with people urging the girl to stop hurting herself. A St. Paul police commander, who is the head of the department’s crisis negotiation team, tried to call, but could not get through, according to a police spokesman.
The Ramsey County Emergency Communications Center received 215 calls to 911 and the non-emergency number during the teen’s livestream nearly triple the normal call load for that time, said Nancie Pass, the center’s deputy director. She didn’t know exactly how many involved the teen, but it appears the majority did.
“Obviously, people did reach out to intervene,” Reidenberg said. “The community gathered together and responded immediately. That is the essence of suicide prevention.”
Seeking way to monitor
Facebook says it can’t actively monitor every post and live video because there are millions of them every day. Staffers, however, will often zero in on streams that rack up the most views — a stream of a potential suicides in progress will often be a big draw.
Several companies are developing software that can intelligently watch and search for content on live-stream services.
David Luan, co-founder of the New York-based startup Dextro, said the challenge lies in creating software that can interpret not just still images but moving images, audio and other “signifiers” that demonstrate what is happening in the video.
“It’s like trying to recreate a human’s experience of watching these videos,” Luan said.
While Reidenberg said he has seen a slight increase in people using social media over the last decade to make threats about self harm, “most of the time suicide is a very private thing and people don’t go public with it.”
In the event that someone does post about it on social media, “there’s at least a potential opportunity for the community to intervene and get someone the help they need,” Reidenberg said.
5. A 12-year-old girl live-streamed her suicide. It took two weeks for Facebook to take the video down.
The video immediately appeared on various sites, including Facebook and YouTube, both of which have since made efforts to remove the footage. YouTube took the video down, saying it violated the website’s policy on violent or graphic content.
But, according to media reports, the video lingered on Facebook for nearly two weeks before the social media giant started removing versions of the footage from its pages.
By then, people as far away as the United Kingdom had seen it.
Katelyn Nicole Davis, of Polk County, Ga., died Dec. 30, broadcasting her suicide using a streaming app called Live.me. The 40-minute live stream showed the girl saying she had been sexually abused by a family member, according to BuzzFeed. Later, Davis, wearing a white, long-sleeved blouse, can be seen tying a rope to a tree outside her family’s house. She apologizes as she looks toward the camera, according to Quartz, and then steps off her foothold.
The girl’s death underscores the slippery slope entailed in providing a platform people can use to share their lives publicly in real time. Last July, Facebook acknowledged that while live video can be a powerful tool to document events, sharing — and allowing — videos on the platform must be done responsibly. But what has often surfaced is jarring and, sometimes, graphic content.
Most recently, a group of four people used Facebook Live to broadcast themselves torturing and taunting a mentally disabled teenager. Last August, law enforcement officials successfully petitioned Facebook to disable the social-media accounts of Korryn Gaines, who was live-streaming her armed standoff with Baltimore County police.
In October, the social media giant announced that it will begin considering the newsworthiness and public interest of difficult or graphic content before censoring it — even when it violates the site’s rules. According to its policy, Facebook does not allow self-injury or suicide.
In Davis’s case, the original video was not hosted by Facebook. Versions of the video that were later circulated on Facebook included a “graphic video” warning in the beginning.
Shortly after Davis’s death, Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd told Fox 5 that the police department had been flooded with outraged messages, emails and phone calls from people — including some from Britain — demanding that the video be taken down. Dodd told Fox 5 that he has contacted several websites that posted the footage but that there’s not much else he can do to keep it from spreading further.
“We want it down as much as anyone, for the family, and it maybe harmful to other kids. We contacted some of the sites. They asked if they had to take it down, and by law they don’t. But it’s just the common decent thing to do in my opinion,” Dodd told Fox 5.
In a statement Monday, the police department asked anyone who has knowledge of the video to keep it “off of the Internet.”
6. Frederick Jay Bowdy Suicide On Facebook Live Leaves The Family In Dire Straits
Facebook Live is gaining notoriety lately due to the increasing number of suicide cases on its platform. By and large, the victims are taking to an outrageous practice of live streaming their death. 14-year-old Nakia Venant, 12-year-old Katelyn Nicole Davis and now, 33-year-old Frederick Jay Bowdy. Only in his case, he leaves a wife and six children’s future hanging in the balance.
Frederick had a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from universities of West Georgia and Texas. Also, he worked as a teacher and a basketball coach, reports. However, he was invested in an acting career that took him from his hometown of Fort Worth to California. Not to mention, he appeared in a movie last year.
Besides, he was filming a sports drama, reports Mail Online. Last week, Frederick was a subject of an arrest pertaining to a sexual assault case. Subsequently, his bail was set to 100,000 Dollars for release. A drastic turn of events saw him take his own life, in the wake of his release. He streamed the build-up and the subsequent gun shot to the head through Facebook Live.
Even though, a person who saw the stream alerted the Police, it was too little too late. An account of the event from a Facebook user paints a disturbing picture, of course. Frederick Jay Bowdy was apparently in severe distress, there was tears and pain, the user recollects. His wife Whitney and his children are in deep shock and devastated, needless to say.
Jay was also working as a stripper in a Hollywood club with an alias, Houston. Case in point, he might have had financial shortcomings too. In the wake of his suicide, Whitney is looking at a bleak future. In that regard, a gofundme page is up and running for any aid to her and her children.
His involvement in the sexual assault case is open to debate, but the end result won’t change. He took a drastic step, ending his dreams short and putting his family on the line. One can argue that he couldn’t get in terms with his new-found predicament, or may be not. Whatever it is, Jay had his reasons. A reason good enough to put his family’s interests at stake. A disaster, indeed.
7. Hong Kong model live streams suicide attempt on Facebook
An incoherent and distraught-looking Ng Shuk Yi, 28, talked about her personal problems for nearly an hour before climbing over the railing at a warehouse waterfront in Kowloon and jumped into the water, reported Apple Daily.
Well-known as YoYo, Ng is a freelance model with HKBC Media and has a Facebook following of nearly 9,500.
Despite persuasion from some Facebook users, who were still awake in the wee hours of the morning, Ng persisted in taking her own life because she was facing hard times and "hated herself".
Thankfully, the police, a civil defence team and a colleague rushed to the scene on time. She survived the suicide attempt after she was pulled out of the water by firefighters.