UNPLUGGED: Live Stream Suicides


In this episode, Michael Drane (@upcmd) sits down with Justin Krause (@brobrainscience) to answer a listener question about Live Stream Suicides, bullying and violence. Once again, we'll be talking about the daily struggle that plagues each and every one of us as we sit hidden and comfortable

This listener, Dawn, posted on Facebook during the original recording of our Bystander: Reloaded episode. Dawn writes:

Recently, there was a story going around Facebook about someone live streaming their suicide. 40 people watched and no one did a thing. In your opinions, does technology make the Bystander effect worse? I feel like watching something on social media would make people feel even more like it isn't their responsibility to take action. I was just curious to know what you thought about all of this, also what can you do if you come across this kind of thing online?

As Michael points out in the episode, even though there are new stories coming out about Facebook "Live Stream Suicides" — Public suicide is not new. Michael says he thinks there's something about human nature that makes people want to kill themselves in front of other people: to make an impact, finally. These people on Facebook who have been committing suicide are confessing, and probably getting more views because of it, and this is why they're doing it.  

People gather together to help. The Bystander Effect doesn't negate that this behavior also exists. 

Justin says this is like the recent Cleveland shooter that streamed a series of murders on Facebook. And that the news traveled so fast on Facebook that people went to the area and were live streaming themselves, and were able to try to find him this way. Michael says this happens a lot. People gathering together to help out somebody. The Bystander Effect doesn't negate that this behavior also exists. 

Mutual live-streaming? Is this an episode of Black Mirror? Michael says "Isn't it crazy: social media, in the case of this Cleveland shooter beat mainstream news to the punch." Let that sink in. Facebook has become the fastest source of news. Justin says that the anonymity of the internet and social media lessens the effects of bystander effect in us. Michael disagrees, saying that AS your social media presence becomes your sense of identity (which is totally happening in the world, yikes!) your morality might transfer to doing something helpful! But he says not to forget how passive one can be (even while watching something horrific like a Live Stream suicide) in the comfort of their own home, while no one else knows they're watching it.

I think this is key. It's about having someone else know you're watching it happen. Maybe if people are out live streaming, doing their 'daily vlog' in the future, they'll be compelled (because they have thousands of followers watching their current stream) they'll be more inclined to behave boldly, maybe act nobly. Sure, it's to get approval, but hey aren't we all really living in Charlie Brooker's "Nosedive"? 

In this episode, Michael and Justin discuss being the viewer of this situation. What do you do if you see this? There is speculation that Facebook could implement smart technology to recognize when suicides are happening through live streams. Supposedly this technology will somehow screen for self-harm or suicidal behavior and then respond to it with some kind of intervention.

Justin asks how could this be possible, and per usual, he speaks for the two of us. Michael speculates that they might be picking up on gestures: video or audio recognition where they pick up on keywords related to suicide that somehow alert the local authorities. Or maybe they could recognize the gesture through Kinect-like technology to understand when a person is cutting their wrists or hanging themselves. Justin says this is like they have made technology that tries to step in and intervene in a harmful or violent situation. Reminds me of my favorite safety and healthcare robot, Baymax of Big Hero 6! Michael says Facebook has a responsibility to do something about this, because who else would? 
{EDIT: As of posting this episode on May 22, 2017, The Guardian leaked documents that say that Facebook will not be censoring or intervening in self-harm or suicidal live-streams.}

Justin asks: What if you're watching Facebook live-stream happening on YOUR street, only a few doors down. Are you more compelled to resist the Bystander Effect and do something about the situation? Michael says YES! This is a caveat to the normal Bystander effect. If you're the only person that's qualified to help, than you're more likely to help. So if you're the only surgeon in the restaurant while someone is choking you'll feel more likely to help. 

You are pulled out of the mob-mentality-do-nothing role. When we talk about being the victim of a crime that other people are watching, you have to pull someone back into reality and say "You in the red shirt" or naming a person you know "You! Mary! Go get help!" This individualizes a person, makes them special, and therefore they will feel more inclined to help you. 

Michael wants to set the record straight: The Bystander Effect is VERY real. And these Facebook Suicide Live Streams are EXACTLY what he's talking about. 


— Corey Stewart

Electro-Shock Therapy & Other Crazy Cures

In this episode of the podcast, Michael Drane, our resident psycho-therapist is joined once again, by fellow clinician, Justin Krause, to discuss Electro-Shock Therapy. A listener on Twitter wrote in to the show and asked about Electro-shock being a treatment for depression. Michael and Justin also get into some other ridiculous cures over the years like lobotomies. We hope you enjoy the show! 

"Hello, you said that Electro-Convulsion Treatment (ECT) is a "throw-back" and ECT feels like it would be horrible. Wouldn't most people rather be depressed than be physically shocked?!"

Michael and Justin talk about how horrifying the process looks. To most people, electro-shock therapy seems undesirable... medieval to say the least. But Michael says it does do wonders for depression. Think of cancer and chemotherapy. Nobody wants to go through chemotherapy, but they'd rather not have cancer, so usually, with these things, you end up fighting fire with fire or choosing the lesser of two evils. In some cases, where patients (like the ones that Michael and Justin see everyday) are a major harm to themselves because they are clinically suicidal. In these cases, it seems as though, electro-shock therapy would be desirable to almost dying every day.

A downside to ECT is memory-loss. Impairment of the variety of learning or as Justin would say, Duller or Dumber. Would you rather a shorter, cognitive healthy life, and happy? Or longer having cognitive ability, but being depressed?

Electro-Shock Therapy (ECT) is notably successful, because of the risk to benefit ratio. You really have to weight the pros and cons of a current state. You have to choose between killing yourself and whatever long-term damage this procedure would do. 

Justin thinks that like in Good Will Hunting, you have to find the person and purpose to put the wind in your sails. He believes everyone can find a way to happiness without reverting to drastic desicions like this. Michael agrees that he would never push this as a last resort. He thinks ECT is necessary only for people who are clinically suicidal. 

Funfact: Carrie Fisher was a huge proponent of Electro-Shock Therapy. 

At one point, ECT was used to "cure" homosexuality. There have been so many throughout history that are just insane non-cures that did irreperable damage.

Insulin Coma Therapy. Induce coma by injecting you with too much insulin. Most people would wake up and feel their feelings diminish. The trade-off of course is that a percentage of them died, so. 

Trepanation: In ancient times, They burrow a hole into your skull to let evil spirits out. They thought if you were crazy, that there were literally demons flying around in your head. Amazingly enough, it's still practiced here in the U.S. to "release pressure on the brain" and they cut out a little square. Michael says it remind him of the top of a baby's head being so vulnerable.

Hydro-Therapy: For mental illness, they would wrap you in towels and put you in an ice bath, or put you in a crucifixion position and use a high-pressure hose one you.

Magnetic Pull. Frank Mezmer is known as the father of hypno-therapy. One of his theories is that the cause of mental disturbance was the moons gravitational pull affects the water in the brain. His evidence for this is that the ocean and the tide is so affected by the moon. Which is not entirely irrational. His treatment for this is to offset the magical pull of the moon on your brain using magnets. 

Malaria Therapy. They would inject you with Malaria in order to counter-act Syphillis. The two diseases sort-of killed each other off, leaving many people left even more healthy.

Chemically Induced Seizures. They've found that people with epilepsy after a seizure will report feeling their depression decrease and feeling happier

Hysteria Therapy. Hypocrates is known as the Father of Modern Medicine. He had this theory, that any female patient who had any issue at all from fatigue to nausea, was diagnosed as hysteria. No matter what. He said this was due to a "wandering womb" and Plato believed that the only way to cure this was to get married and have babies. So basically his cure for everything was to have a baby. Seriously. Bonkers.

Lobotomy. Walter Friedman sort-of pioneered the Lobotomy, in-fact nicknamed the Henry Ford of the lobotomy. He would go door-to-door offering this procedure, where he would take an ice-pick and push it back into a person's brain by lifting up their eyelid, he would scramble the frontal lobe of the person and knock the ice-pick all the way back and moved it back and forth like a windshield wiper. He was the first to mass-produce this, performing up to 60 lobotomies a day. He eventually won a Nobel prize for Lobotomies in the 1940's. He was unique because he performed these lobotomies in an archaic, sloppy way. Eventually, his sloppiness got the better of him and several of his patients died. One patient died while he was performing the lobotomy because he took a picture and his hand slipped. Soon after he lost his license. By his standards, it worked. Yes, this person is not beating his head against the wall anymore, but he's also not really himself anymore. 

Justin is, like me, absolutely horrified. I'll leave you with that. Goodnight, stalkers.

—Corey Stewart
@corstew91 on twitter/instagram


Behind-the-Scenes of UPC with the Dependent Independent Podcast

In this bonus episode, we visited Nick G., friend of the podcast, over on his show— The Dependent Independent Podcast. Michael, Corey and Nick talk about the UPC starting place, the background of how we got started and how we got to where we are now. Let us know how you feel about it @upcpodcast. We hope you enjoy the show! 

Make sure to check out the Dependent Independent Podcast for more interviews and to learn about other podcasts! You can also follow Nick G. on Twitter @dependentnick



Patrons Get Perks...

Also, this week we introduced patron monthly wallpapers as an incentive for our stalkers. You can sign up to become a stalker and get new monthly UPC-themed wallpapers every month. Go to patreon.com/upcpodcast now. Thanks guys! :)
—Corey Stewart