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Twitter is changing the celebrity world as we know it, my friends.

That probably sounds pretty dramatic, haha, but really – in what other reality would Matt Lewis tell me, a lowly blogger, about his involvement with Action for Children, Emma Watson ask me to explain Babel Fish, and Taylor Laurent actually follow me back? (Sure, he follows everyone back, but whatever.)

Oh, and let’s not forget: Twitter might have actually allowed Demi Moore to save a life.

Yep, that’s right – and if you’ve watched the news or spent any amount of time online since Friday, you’ve probably already heard. According to ABC News, one of Moore’s followers (by the name of “Sandieguy”) on Twitter told Moore via an “@ reply”:

“Getting a knife, a big one that is sharp. Going to cut my arm down the whole arm so it doesn’t waste time.”

And then followed up with:

“gbye … gonna kill myself now.”

I have no idea how Moore, who has over 400,000 followers, managed to catch that message, but her response (a simple “hope you are joking”) might have prompted a slew of other Twitter users to track down the original message and contact local authorities who got the suicidal Twitter user to safety. According to Jermaine Thomas, the San Jose Police Department Public Information Officer, the department received several calls about “Sandieguy” and they were able to locate the user and get him (or her?) to safety.

Moore’s husband, Ashton Kutcher, later attempted to soothe nerves when he posted:

“wifey reported a suicide attempt based on a at reply tweet she got and saved someones life. the woman is in the hospital now.”

(Twitter is also killing proper grammar as we know it.)

To be honest, I sat on this for a while, unsure of how to respond. Honestly, I was a little unsure of how exactly I felt about it.

Did Demi Moore help save a life? Possibly, yes. Given the number of followers Moore has and how people on Twitter love to check out the conversations of those they follow (celebs or not), it very well could have been Moore’s response to “Sandieguy” that alerted others to the problem and prompted them to call the police (thank goodness for good ol’ fashioned nosiness, yes?).

But I’m not as impressed that Moore could have “saved a life,” as some sites put it, as I’m impressed with the fact that Moore didn’t ignore the message. She has over 400,000 followers (to put that in perspective for you, I have something like 300 and struggle to keep up), and let’s face it: Suicide is a sticky, uncomfortable, and terrifying topic at best – and that’s just when you’re talking about it with people you know. Moore, who was messaged by a complete stranger, could have easily just ignored it and hoped for the best. She also could have ignored it hoping it was an empty threat or a grasp at attention from a star.

According to E! Online, however, Moore admitted that while she was “torn” about whether or not respond, she was also too “uncomfortable” ignoring it.

That is fantastic, and I applaud Moore for what she did. It will hopefully prompt others to react the same way, should they ever find themselves in similar situations – on or off the Web.

However, for all my admiration, I’m also a little sad that it takes one celeb’s good deed to cause so much of a stir in the media. Like my friend Dr. John M. Grohol pointed out Friday, there are numerous organizations both on and off the Web that work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, to do what Moore did last week. (And his point about how ABC filed the story under “entertainment” is spot on – highly recommend checking it out).

Finally, after mulling it over for a while, I’ve decided the bottom line is that there are two lessons to learn from this:

  1. Celebs have some serious social influence (so much so that the media is oftentimes more interested in their good deeds than the good deeds organizations throughout the nation have been doing for many years), but we shouldn’t let this influence dictate how we feel or think about – or react to – certain situations. Honestly, if you’re impressed with what Moore did, get involved in an organization that does it every day. Get active, and do some impressive stuff yourself.
  2. Suicide is not entertainment, nor is it a light issue. It’s serious. It’s permanent. If someone threatens to kill himself, take action. I don’t care if you know the person or not. I don’t care if you’re afraid of looking stupid, or making someone mad, or even losing a friendship. They’re all tiny prices to pay for saving a life.

So, what do you think? Moore did a good thing, but was it worthy of getting more media attention than what suicide prevention programs get? Do you think Moore’s actions, and the news reports that followed, will help bring more awareness to suicide awareness and prevention, or backfire and send a ream of suicide threats heading in every celebrity’s direction?

 


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Bill Belew (April 7, 2009)

polchic (April 7, 2009)

From Psych Central's website:
PsychCentral (April 7, 2009)

From Psych Central's World of Psychology:
Unsuicidal Thoughts | World of Psychology (September 10, 2009)






    Last reviewed: 7 Apr 2009

APA Reference
Sparks, A. (2009). Lessons From Demi Moore's Reaction To Suicide Threat. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/celebrity/2009/04/lessons-from-demi-moores-reaction-to-suicide-threat/

 

 

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