Background: The media and the Internet may be having an influence on suicidal behavior. Online social networks such as Facebook represent a new facet of global information transfer. The impact of these online social networks on suicidal behavior has not yet been evaluated.
Aims: To discuss potential effects of suicide notes on Facebook on suicide prevention and copycat suicides, and to create awareness among health care professionals.
Methods: We present a case involving a suicide note on Facebook and discuss potential consequences of this phenomenon based on literature found searching PubMed and Google.
Results: There are numerous reports of suicide notes on Facebook in the popular press, but none in the professional literature. Online social network users attempted to prevent planned suicides in several reported cases. To date there is no documented evidence of a copycat suicide, directly emulating a suicide announced on Facebook.
Conclusions: Suicide notes on online social networks may allow for suicide prevention via the immediate intervention of other network users. But it is not yet clear to what extent suicide notes on online social networks actually induce copycat suicides. These effects deserve future evaluation and research.