This post deals with suicide and might be triggering for some readers.
It was Tuesday evening at the end of what seemed to be a beautiful Spring day.
Susie’s* family-of-four was sitting around the dinner table - as they do every night - when her 12-year-old son reflected on his day.
Earlier, in the playground at school, he watched a man kill himself on YouTube.
“My son isn't on any social media,” Susie explains to Mamamia. “A friend of his was telling him about it, and I guess curiosity got the better of him.”
You may have heard the news. Late in August, a man live streamed his death to Facebook. It has since been shared to a number of other social media platforms and in the past few days has been widely reported by mainstream media organisations, with news that children were seeing the video in increasing numbers. Susie’s son could see there had been hundreds of thousands of views.
The American man in the video explained his girlfriend had broken up with him, before he died by suicide.
“I was gobsmacked. I had no words when he told us,” she explains.
“Luckily, my husband stepped in, because I was just in complete shock that this would even happen on social media.”
Also at the family dinner table was their 11-year-old daughter. Susie explains her children had no real understanding of suicide prior to Tuesday, and adds: “We don't even understand it as adults. How can we expect a child to understand it?”
When Susie and her husband checked their phones that night, they saw the school had sent out an email informing parents of the video, and offering whatever help they could provide, including counselling.
Side note... Here's how to talk to people with anxiety. Post continues below.
On Wednesday morning Susie asked her son, who attends a high school in Sydney, how he was doing in light of the video.
"He said he was okay," she explains, but added it was, “a really hard thing to unsee”.
Susie responded to her son: “You might be okay now, but know that tomorrow, next month, five years time, ten years time, or whenever, if you're not okay, you've got our full support and we're here to talk to you.”