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Video circulating on TikTok & Social Media of man dying by suicide.

TikTok Safeguarding Alert

Tragically our children and young people regularly see the dark side of human life on social media.  Since Sunday social media platforms such as TikTok have been scrambling to remove widely shared clips of an American man dying by suicide which was originally live-streamed on Facebook.  The video footage, according to various media outlets, originated on Facebook and has been shared on Twitter,  Instagram and TikTok and probably a few more. 

Platforms such as TikTok and Instagram are incredibly popular with young people and there is a real risk that many more young people could come across the content as well as those who already have.  According to an article on BBC News ‘TikTok have said they would ban accounts repeatedly uploading clips’.

How easy is it to come across the video clip?

Fortunately, as the TikTok community initially became aware of the clip many users started posting videos warning their followers to watch out for the image and swipe away from the video.  According to an article on The Verge ‘creators spoke about the most disturbing part of the video being hidden inside more innocuous looking TikTok content’ so this gave a bit of heads up to users.  Unfortunately warnings are sometimes like a Red Button to some users who will then actively seek out the content

According to The Verge, Tiktok have been busy searching and deleting the video,  a spokesperson from TikTok said ‘Our systems have been automatically detecting and flagging these clips for violating our policies against content that displays, praises, glorifies, or promotes suicide’.    

So what can Parents do?

Firstly, it’s important for Parents and carers to remain alert, calm and reinforce the consequences of sharing videos such as this one. 

The situation is tragic for veteran Ronnie McNutts family and friends and their grief has only been exacerbated by sharing of the video around the world.  We know this is a view shared by many across the globe and we support TikTok and any other platforms who remove users for sharing this video.

We also support parents teachers and carers who promote responsible and decent use of smartphones and who reinforce boundaries on sharing and creating content around clips of this type of tragedy.

Secondly viewing the video is extremely distressing for anyone so of course please encourage children and teenagers to always speak to parents or a trusted adult when they see something upsetting, you don’t have to name this video specifically but you can ask them about anything which they might have seen or heard about today.

Keep in mind that although platforms such as TikTok are working to remove the video clips and take steps to ban those users, it’s still possible for the content to be searched on other platforms.  These video clips can then be further amplified by users choosing to share via other messaging platforms such as WhatsApp groups and some of the lesser known social media platforms and apps.  

Warnings have also started popping up on Instagram around the clips of the video circulating on Twitter.   Users can change their video settings to turn off the autoplay feature on Twitter but this can’t be done on Tiktok or Instagram on smartphones.

If you know someone who is struggling with thoughts of suicide or you are concerned about someone who is, we encourage you to help them seek support, we have included some organisations below:

PIPS Newry

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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Wayne Denner shares his knowledge & expertise on leading tech industry blog.

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