Editorial - Lessons from the death of an 18-year-oldDon’t believe everything you read on Facebook. And don’t post things on the Internet that you’re not entirely sure of when it comes to someone else’s life.
Don’t believe everything you read on Facebook.
And don’t post things on the Internet that you’re not entirely sure of when it comes to someone else’s life.
Those are two lessons that can be learned in the aftermath of the tragic death of 18-year-old student, Lance Lundsten of Miltona on Saturday.
Shortly after his death became known, the speculation ramped up on Facebook pages that because he was so young, he must have taken his own life. That led to more speculation: That he took his life because he was being bullied at school.
As it turns out, a contributing factor in Lundsten’s death was a medical condition, cardiac edema, or an enlarged heart. That’s what the family learned from the medical examiner’s preliminary investigation. Toxicology results may shed more light on what caused the death but they won’t be completed for another six to eight weeks. The sheriff’s office, which is investigating the death, has only described it as a medical call/sudden death in two separate news releases.
Before people started gossiping and drawing conclusions on the Internet, they should have stopped and considered the family. They should have asked themselves if they would have liked the same kind of unsubstantiated rumors swirling around about someone in their own family.
Unfortunately, whipped up by the Facebook frenzy, the distorted story of Lundsten’s death took on a life of its own. A TV station reported about the Facebook speculations and it snowballed quickly from there, getting reported by other media outlets as well – a sad case of media reporting what other media were reporting, even though it was untrue.
Some Jefferson High School students threatened a walk out, believing the school wasn’t taking the bullying issue seriously enough.
Anti-bullying groups were quick to pick up on the death, spreading the story further. U.S. Senator Al Franken called attention to the incident to drum up support for anti-bullying legislation. Images of Lundsten connected to headlines of bullying and suicide popped up all over the Internet – even on a website in France.
It shouldn’t have happened this way.
The point of this editorial is not to downplay the realities and seriousness of bullying. It happens too often in schools here, there and everywhere. It is a terrible problem that needs to be brought out in the open and discussed more. One thing to consider, however: The family told the newspaper that Lundsten never indicated to them that he was being bullied at school.
Here’s the real point: An 18-year-old with his whole life in front of him – a musically talented young man who earned a black belt in martial arts and loved playing piano for residents in assisted living centers – isn’t here anymore. We should be remembering the unique and special life he lived and think about his family that’s grieving a sudden loss. They need our prayers, understanding and support – not idle speculation on computer screens.
Echo Press editorials are the position of the newspaper’s editorial board, which includes Jody Hanson, publisher; Al Edenloff, editor; and news reporter, Celeste Beam.