“Gary Speed is dead” I read on Twitter late morning today. What dreadful news, what can possibly have happened?
I turn to BBC News; that carried just a ‘breaking news’ statement. I turn back to Twitter and I read all kinds of things about him taking his own life, and plenty of genuine sadness and shock too. It has taken until now, more than 5 hours later, for the BBC to mention that Speed probably took his own life.
I needed some way to breach that gulf between the raw reality on Twitter and the guarded words from the traditional media. Someone (I don’t remember who it was I’m afraid) tweeted a link to this vital One in Four guide to tweeting about suicide and mental health crises. This is just the sort of thing social networks need.
It seems I was not alone in wanting to bridge that gulf.
My original tweet containing the link has 72 RTs to date, an early RT by @largeburrito has more than 100 further RTs, and further RTs by @TellyDubby, @ajhalls1 and @bennosaurus prompted dozens more. This one tweet has travelled further and to more people than anything else I have ever written on Twitter.
Is grief a great but tragic leveller in some way? I am just glad that this, a sensible and practical tweet, happens to be the one that has gone so far, and has hopefully helped just a very little bit to digest some terribly sad news.