Taiwanese Facebook user Claire Lin told her online friends that she was killing herself with charcoal fumes and posted photos to prove it, police said on Wednesday. An officer said the woman, who lived in New Taipei City, took her life on March 18 -- the day she turned 31 -- after an unresolved argument with her boyfriend.
Chang Juichuan, a Taipei-based musician and teacher who is in touch with youth culture, says social media helped Lin make a statement to her boyfriend and others close to her that would not have been possible otherwise. Lin's Facebook final posts included comments about her death, local media reported with little editorial comment.
George Hou, media studies instructor at Ishou University in Taiwan, says Facebook dulled the impact on Lin's friends and that Taiwanese should be asking hard questions about the role of social media.
"How to change the young generation's use of new technology, the Internet or Facebook? Do not separate people through new technology. We have to think about how to make people more connected," Hou said.
Lin's boyfriend found her body the next morning, called police and told family members. Local media say Lin's family members were unaware of the Facebook conversations and upset that none of her online friends intervened to stop the suicide.
Just more than half of Taiwan's 23 million people use Facebook and many Taiwanese offices ban employees from using it during work time.
But the social media tool has become a lifestyle. In some work settings, employees chat on Facebook or other instant messaging services instead of talking to colleagues who might just be one cubicle away. University students often use Facebook on their portable PCs while listening to professors give lectures.
Police say Facebook itself is not a factor in their investigation to piece together what led up to the suicide.