A young man took his own life last week. There was a time when that would have been a private matter—no news reports, no television coverage, no public candlelight vigil.
Social media has changed that.
A Facebook page created Sept. 18, the day after the 13-year-old’s death, includes comments from friends and strangers. By early this week, it had 2,700 “likes.”
Television coverage speculated the teen had been bullied. School officials provided the predictable “not so,” but friends agreed, saying they never heard of anyone bullying him.
In an effort to help students wrap their minds and emotions around the tragedy, the middle school provided the setting for a candlelight vigil last Wednesday evening. Hundreds attended.
The school board meeting the same evening started with a moment of silence to respect the memory of the eighth-grader. In an email to district employees, Superintendent Robert Graeff said they will struggle for years to understand but at the same time “we will rejoice that we knew him, that he offered much to those with whom he came in contact, and that he made our lives richer for his time with us.”
One Ramona resident reminded those who read her online advice that, just as there are days of loneliness, pain, and heartache, there are days of happiness and wonder.
And a recent Ramona High School graduate hopes the teen’s family knows “that the whole of Ramona has come together to support them.”
Before newspapers, radio, and television, news spread by word of mouth, and little was private. Social media, it seems, is bringing us full circle.