South African radio personality, DJ Fresh, has come under fire on Twitter after he tweeted about someone he knew wanting to commit suicide. In the tweet that sparked the controversy, Fresh referred to a message from the person in question saying they had just tried to kill themselves, asking if it would be “wrong” to “send them 5 ways that will work”.
The tweet attracted the attention of support organisation, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group(SADAG).
The group replied to Fresh’s initial tweet, expressing their disappointment in it. They went on to note that their sense of disappointment was only deepened by the fact that Fresh has done a number of fundraisers for charities that aim to support those who suffer from depression.
Fresh then suggested that the person was just looking for attention:
SADAG’s response suggested that no matter how idle the person’s threats might seem, they should always be treated as a “cry for help” rather than an act of attention-seeking. In particular, it mentioned the hundreds of phone calls it gets every day from suicidal members of the public:
The back and forth between the two accounts continued for some time, with SADAG using the debate as an opportunity to raise awareness about the various mechanisms through which people contemplating suicide can reach help:
Fresh was also reminded that there could be incredibly deep implications to sending out a tweet like that to his 140 000 plus followers:
That was not, however, to be the end of the matter. Fresh sent out a number of tweets affirming the person who was the subject of the original tweet was not, in fact, suicidal as well as his support of the work that groups like SADAG do:
This is not the first time that the topic of suicide has found a prominent place in the South African Twitter community. Earlier this year, users of the social network united to come to the aid of a woman who had threatened and then chronicled her suicide attempt through a series of tweets.