Does Social Media Contribute to Suicide?

SC lobbyist and businessman Tom Sponseller is dead. His family reported him missing on Feb. 18 after he didn’t come home from work. Right around that time, news also broke that Sponseller’s business, South Carolina Hospitality Association, was under financial investigation. And 10 days later, Sponseller was found dead from an apparent gunshot wound. What a shame. What a shame that Sponseller couldn’t live down his mistakes.

Let’s assume the worst. Let’s say he embezzled company money and gambled it away. Or worse; snorted it up his nose. Or worse than that, fed the money to an Argentine mistress. That’s pretty bad, huh? But are the consequences of one’s failings being exposed so intolerable that death is a better option? For me, hell no! But for some other’s, evidently so. And maybe, just maybe, social media and the 24-hour news cycle contribute to the misguided feeling that death is better than facing the music.

Think about it. People can’t just sin anymore. They can’t just make a mistake. They commit major life infractions. Even the smallest breech can be made to seem like mass murder after bloggers, vloggers, tweeters, facebookers, journalists, Anderson Cooper, Nancy Grace, Dr. Drew, Matt Lauer, Star Jones, Dr. Phil, The View, The Talk, The Chat and The Chew get through with it.

Actually, infractions today are no bigger or worse than they were 25 years ago. But it certainly seems that people are coping with their mistakes less and less. And I think this new electronic news delivery system is playing a major role in that. It makes mountains out of molehills. It breaks down a story to the smallest increment, ravishing people and families in the process. We point fingers. We hold it up to a light; we inspect and dissect… just like we’ve never committed a sin. That pressure gets the best of some people. And suicide seems to be a better option than facing all of that scrutiny.

But if you have screwed up and are considering suicide, keep this in mind: most times, the electronic humiliation is short-lived. We Americans are pretty quick to move one. We are thirsty for the blood of fresh sin… new mistakes. Yes, we’ll rake you over the coals pretty badly. But we’ll drop you like a hot potato as soon as the next mistake comes to light. So just hang in there. You can make it through this. A bigger story will come along. Trust me on this one.