Saturday, 21 March 2015

Fake Suicide Post on Facebook Lands a US Man in Mental Asylum

Shane Tusch, an electrician from San Mateo, California was arrested by police for posting a fake suicide post on Facebook. Tusch was later sent to a psychiatric center for about three days.

Image (c) Facebook

According to 48-year-old Shane Tusch, the main intent of his fake suicide post on Facebook was to test company's new suicide prevention program.

Last month, Facebook launched a new suicide prevention tool to support users who are at high risk of committing suicide. This tool allows users flag suicidal posts on Facebook with a single click. The tool gives options of sending a message to person in trouble, contact some Facebook friend for support, or connect the person in distress with a trained counselor. Facebook claims that such suicidal posts are reviewed by its team, which then sends the original poster links to some helpful resources to prevent him from committing suicide. Facebook had also revealed that, before launching this new tool, it consulted many mental health facilities and organizations providing support to people struggling with suicidal thoughts.

According to Techworm, Tusch in his Facebook post of 26th February 2015 expressed his frustrations and stress due to changes made by his Bank of America in home loan terms. He threatened to take his life by hanging himself from the Golden Gate Bridge.

"So I have decided to take my life in some very public way that will hopefully get people talking about the crimes these banks have payed off are governments and left their wives and kids in the streets. I think hanging myself from the Golden Gate Bridge with a big sign that says bank america killed me and left my wife and kids without a father or a home!" Tusch's post read.

Soon Facebook locked his account and one unknown person who noticed this post alerted San Mateo police, who then arrested Tusch. He was taken in police custody and was inquired about his Facebook post. Tusch told police that he was not planning to commit suicide and was just expressing his frustration and disappointment regarding the First Amendment announced by Bank of America. Police later sent him to a mental asylum where he was kept for about 72 hours.

"Facebook needs to leave suicide prevention to family and friends." Tusch wrote on his Facebook page. "There are no checks and balances! I was only proving a point that Facebook should not be involved in this..."

According to Mr Tusch, this fresh experience shows the dangers of Facebook's approach on suicide prevention as the person who alerted police about his "suicidal" post was a "stranger".

Jamie Court, President of Consumer Watchdog - a US lobby group - has requested Mark Zuckerberg to "suspend the suicide prevention program until it is fully protective of the rights of all individuals and contains safeguards against abuse".

According to Jamie Court, who agrees with the point raised by Mr Tusch, Facebook "facilitated this man's loss of freedom for 70 hours and other innocent victims will be caught in Facebook's web" if the social network doesn't improve its suicide prevention program's procedures.

Facebook has not yet commented on this incident.

Author: Devender Kundaliya