What To Do If You See A Troubling Facebook Post

By Rachel Martin

December 12, 2011 Updated Dec 12, 2011 at 7:06 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – In regards to the Facebook post that led Fort Wayne Police to three dead bodies at a Lima Rd. home this weekend, what should you do if you see a post like that? How should you react? And, why do people post such statuses? A local psychologist answers all these questions.

Dr. Stephen Ross, a clinical and forensic psychologist in Fort Wayne, says people often vent or post their feelings on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube because those sites invite that kind of behavior. With over 800 million users on Facebook, He says when someone is hurting posting a status is sure to get them some attention.

“Number one, it’s convenient. Number two, you have an instant audience. Number three, it’s memorialized. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. I guess you can erase whatever’s on Facebook, or what not, but in the mind of a person who’s doing the act, they have their five minutes of fame,” Dr. Ross said.

If someone posts a serious or troubling Facebook status claiming to harm themselves or others, Dr. Ross says to take it as a serious threat.

“My suggestion is you take it as a valid threat. So as the recipient of that, if you're reading it, and if it's as clear as a bell that they're going to do something, you have to act. You have to do something about it,” Dr. Ross said.

Dr. Ross advises contacting the person who posted that status first, to see if they really mean what they're saying. Then, he suggests contacting the family, and then police, depending on the seriousness of the post.

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