Jakarta – On Friday, February 22, a young man identified as TSR, jumped to his death while bystanders filmed the event with some even egging him on.
A resident of South Lampung regency and a student at a state university in the province, TSR took his life at only 21. He jumped from the roof of a supermarket in Bandarlampung, Lampung at around 4 pm.
Video footage of the incident has been circulating online across social media platforms which show an audience building up at the ground level of the premises with their phones recording TSR who was standing at the edge of the building above.
The Jakarta Post noted that some of the video evidence showed a few of the people encouraging TSR to jump. Before he actually jumped, he was recorded by someone in a car who was laughing and was heard shouting, “Jump off! Jump off!”
In another video, a woman was caught saying, “He really ended up jumping off because we convinced him to do so!”
Ms. Heni, a witness to the incident, informed kompas.com that she tried asking for help from a nearby security guard at the supermarket and from store employees and suggested the use of some mattresses from the store to lessen the impact of the fall and hopefully prevent serious injuries. However, they allegedly did not want to help.
“I also saw a man dressed in black who I thought was trying to persuade the young man not to jump. But, it turns out he just took a picture of him,” she added.
According to Ms. Heni, people just started covering the body with cardboard and she overheard a man “telling others to look for newspapers, cardboard boxes and not to touch the body. He told the people there to just wait for the police.”
Police investigations are currently ongoing.
Ms. Heni also questioned the reactions of people who witnessed the scene wondering why they seemed more concerned with filming the incident rather than expressing empathy for the situation. “They were busy documenting it and spreading it on social media,” she said.
Social media and empathy
In this decade of smartphones, we spend more and more time online. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have become the primary mediums of digital communication.
In Singapore alone, almost 3.3 million out of 4.59 million Internet users are mobile social media users. There is an 85% penetration rate recorded for social media and social network users according to a study on the social media landscape in Singapore.
This means that the average Singaporean adult spends almost two days a week on the Internet making Singapore one of the most active social media consumers in the world.
Meanwhile, a social studies professor of science and technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sherry Turkle, has been studying the relationship between humans and technology for over three decades and has been discovering that people nowadays would prefer to “text than call.”
She noted that “avoiding face-to-face interaction is decreasing our ability to empathise with others and have meaningful conversations. The increasing reliance on technology to interact is also leading to more depression.”
We see cases of this lack of empathy when people would rather capture than connect, much like the incident that Ms. Heni witnessed above. Has suicide been desensitized to such an extent?
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