Mental Health Monday: Caroline Flack's death is a tragedy too far
Updated: Jun 6, 2020
The tragic death by suicide of Caroline Flack provides a stark reminder of the merciless cruelty of both the mainstream and social media.
As rags like the Daily Mail and The Sun race to delete every vindictive, spiteful article they wrote about Caroline Flack, I feel sick to my stomach. Sick that a young woman felt so utterly desperate and alone that she felt there was no other way out, and sick that these odious publications are trying to relinquish responsibility for the shameful part they played in her destruction.
It beggars belief they have the audacity to post snivelling, disingenuous tributes when they mocked her incessantly and contributed to her misery. Her arrest for allegedly assaulting her boyfriend provided them with the perfect excuse to encroach on her private life for cheap likes and rejoice in her downfall.
Before her trial, the media had already sentenced Caroline, subjecting her to a protracted humiliation, and inevitably, social media followed. It is little surprise that she was unable to bear the pressure of relentless scrutiny and the vitriol of online trolls.
Under an increasingly rabid spotlight, it’s little wonder her mental health deteriorated, culminating in her tragic death.
If ever there was a time to be aware of the destructive power of words, it is surely now.
At best, social media is a tedious cesspit of one-upmanship, at worst, a baying mob unwavering in its determination to eat the vulnerable alive.
Fame and fortune provide no immunity to hurtful remarks, a fact that is entirely lost on every single person who thinks posting unkind comments is without consequence. Celebrities are just as susceptible to criticism as the next person.
Anyone can succumb to vile remarks, vicious put-downs, and ignorant assumptions. Everyone can suffer because of social media. It is destructive, it is powerful, and it is everywhere.
Perhaps some people can be forgiven for having little digs at celebrities infinitely more successful than they are – social media fuels comparison and the disgruntled and eternally discontented are bound to utilise any outlet they have to project their misery on to others.
It isn’t acceptable, but it’s perhaps understandable. Research has repeatedly shown that social media is harmful, in particular when used to excess, and yet here we are, as immersed in it as ever, grabbing our phones several times a day for our next toxic fix, like drug users in the throes of addiction.
Once the shock of Caroline’s death subsides I have no doubt that normal service will resume in the tabloids and elsewhere. The social media cesspit will reawaken, the bullies and trolls will re-emerge with a vengeance (not that some of them ever went away), and the incessant bullying of Meghan Markle will no doubt continue apace (Piers Morgan, anyone?). The next victim will be chewed up and spat out with no thought of he consequences to the individual or their family.
Life is finite and fragile, and this is surely a tragedy too far. There has to come a point where intruding into people’s private lives, tearing down celebrities and hounding vulnerable people to their deaths comes to an end.
As I trawled through Twitter reading the tributes to Caroline given by the very people in the media responsible for her anguish, it occurred to me that the only real and meaningful tribute would be to make sure that she was the last person they treated so appallingly.
If they really are sorry that she is gone, they have a very powerful way of proving that.
Enough really is enough.
The Samaritans offer support and advice to people feeling suicidal or vulnerable 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Their website is http://www.samaritans.org, email address firstname.lastname@example.org or call free on 116 123.