Duty of Care

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Last week I had a post published on Kiki and Tea that coincided with R U OK Day.  Today has been my first chance to log in and check the comments on that post and I was shocked.  The commenter left a link to a website that had absolutely failed in it’s duty of care to it’s readers.

On the 9th of September Mamamia posted an article about Loneliness which appeared to resonate with a few of their readers.  One reader however used the post to comment what appeared to be a suicide note.  Fellow readers reached out and asked him to reconsider and one posted the link to several help lines that would be of assistance.  At the time I read the article, there appeared to be no comment from any of the staff at Mamamia.

In the days after this man had reached out to the community of Mamamia, his daughter also reached out to let the commenters know that her dad had in fact attempted to take his own life.  His daughter was the person to find him and thankfully was able to get him medical treatment.  He is currently recovering in a mental health facility.

I know that when I post things about Mental Illness, Self Harm and Suicide that I am opening up my blog to people who themselves may be in a vulnerable position.  My writing may be the push that makes them open up about how they have been feeling.  While some people may be of the thinking that it’s not *on me* if a person expresses suicidal thoughts, I believe that I have a duty of care to provide a safe place of support.

The beauty of the internet (or not depending on where you are coming from) is that no one is ever anonymous.  Each comment left on my blog (and many others) has an IP address, even if you login in as a guest.  I am not saying this to try and scare anyone but these IP addresses can be used in the event of someone expressing a desire to commit suicide, hurt themselves in anyway or hurt another person.

I believe that it was Mamamia’s duty of care to pass these details onto the relevant authorities.  Would I have passed the details on?  You bet your arse I would have.  I am all for protection of privacy but when a person’s life is in danger then all bets are off.  What if it had been a hoax?  I can’t control other people’s behaviour, but I would feel confident in the knowledge that I had done the right thing.

Do you believe that bloggers and websites have a duty of care when someone expresses a desire to harm themselves or others?  What would you have done in the same situation?

Linking up with the hawt Sarah at Slapdash Mama for The Lounge.

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19 thoughts on “Duty of Care

  1. Alison

    Yes, I would have too. How absolutely awful. We all have a duty of care every day to one another, imo. In real life, online, whatever. If someone states they are considering suicide, we must at least try to help. I remember many, many years ago an ex boyfriend wrote to me and said he was going to kill himself because I had finished with him. After much thought I phoned his mum and told her. He was FURIOUS. I said to him at the time “Martin either you were serious, in which case not doing anything about it would make me a terrible person, or it was a cry for help in which case you need support anyway.” Even 20+ years ago I knew better than to ignore something so serious.

    But this is very much what I would expect from Mammamia whose only interest is posting click fodder pieces and having people snark in the comments to drive up more page views.

    Reply
    1. Tegan Post author

      Yes, I think too that we do have a duty of care to everyone, it’s what separates us from the animals and psychopaths.

      I too am sadly not surprised that Mamamia did something like this but I am still appalled. I hope that if I EVER go down that route there will be some keeping it real people around who will be willing to say ‘Oi Tegan you’re being a bit of a cunt, cut it out’

      Reply
    1. Tegan Post author

      Thank you, that is my aim, to educate and support. The day that I put my stats ahead of the voice of my message, I hope that there is someone around to slap me upside the head, and bring me back to reality.

      Reply
  2. Sarah@Slapdash Mama

    Well the experiene someone close to me had with comments on Mamamia (ok ok it was me!) indicates to me that they don’t keep much of an eye on it, but they will delete stuff. No idea what their policy is on duty of care…did they have a trigger warning on the article at the top? I haven’t gone over to read it yet…

    Reply
    1. Sarah@Slapdash Mama

      I mean they will delete comments if someone asks them to or draws their attention to it like Kim did for me. They also told me they would do that if I asked. I couldn’t be arsed. This is more serious though 🙁

      Reply
      1. Alison

        Some of the comments on your article were horrendous, though as you say the worst of them were eventually deleted – but only Kimbo asked them about it. But that is the ethos of Mamamia, they have no interest in what goes on in the comment section providing it gets them more page hits. I loathe Mamamia, and very rarely visit any more – though I will make an exception for the likes of you 🙂

        Reply
    2. Tegan Post author

      There was no trigger warning, and from memory I don’t think there was even help lines posted at the end of the post. If I write about something that may be triggering or emotive I always make sure to add a *if you are struggling then please contact a professional* at the end of the post because it’s the right thing to do. Even if there is no policy, my moral compass would be way off if I felt that doing nothing about someone threatening to harm themselves or others was ok.

      Reply
  3. Angela

    I think everyone has a duty of care whether it be at the shopping centre, your neighbours or online. If someone is reaching out for help or in other instances threatening others than I believe it is everyone’s duty to do something about it. Something as little as a phone call to the local police station stating what you heard or saw if you are unable or unwilling to physically reach out assistance. Whatever you feel you can safely do to either help someone or prevent an act from happening. But, I just reminded myself that common sense and decency isn’t that common anymore.

    I believe that as an administrator of a page that it is your responsibility to monitor the comments on your site. Especially on posts that you are aware may be triggering to people. I too hope though that a reader would have alerted admin to what was happening too. And double shame on them if someone did and they still did nothing about it.

    Reply
    1. Tegan Post author

      The post was discussed on another forum and several of the people who commented said that they had alerted admin to the mans post. It just makes me angry/sad that a site puts their click rate before the well being of their readers, that is the people who provide the click rate in the first place!

      Reply
  4. Robomum

    Absolutely. With teaching, I’m all about duty of care. Absolutely I would do that and I wouldn’t think twice. Unless the situation puts you in harms way, everyone has duty of care towards their neighbour to some degree. Very thought-provoking Teegs. X

    Reply
  5. Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me

    Hell yeah people have a duty of care, it’s a very delicate business and I think Mamamia should be a little more vigilant in their approach. On a different note, it was AWESOME to meet you T – even though I felt I hardly had time to say hi – I was a bit in my own head during PB. But so lovely to put a face to the name and see what smile of yours in person 🙂 x

    Reply
  6. Vanessa

    There absolutely is a duty of care. And as I was chatting to a few people on twitter about the other day, I’d really love a session on ethics at PB Event next year.

    Reply
  7. Surely Sarah

    Short answer – heck yes. All humans have a duty of care to look after each other. I don’t care if it’s at home, at work, in the street or online. Reach out and help people!

    Reply

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