I was just reading a BBC news story about the tragic suicide of two young cousins. They both come from Brigend, in Wales, where 14 other young people have committed suicide in the past year. There hasn’t been any official explanation for the prevalence of suicides in this relatively small community but obviously people are looking for answers. In what seems at least questionable journalistic practice the following three one sentence paragraphs appear:
Police are investigating the deaths but say it is too early to say how they are linked.
It is thought both youngsters were members of the Bebo and Facebook internet social networking sites.
Relatives confirmed Ms Stephenson knew two previous young people from the Bridgend area who hanged themselves last year.
This is the only mention of social networking in the whole piece, with the implication being that this might be tied up with something happening on the sites. This may be true, but without any evidence to back this up I think the sentence is quite irresponsible. To be sure, there are problems that need to be addressed, but for now reporting like this won’t help ease the minds of worried parents. There is undoubtedly a “web difference” between some teenagers and their parents which creates an air of suspicion about online activities, reporting like this won’t help address the differences.