Facebook Live of man who died after setting himself on fire creates social media concerns

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Facebook Live and other videos have been helpful in the fight on social injustices, but the evolution of social media does have its downfalls. From the livestreaming of horrible crimes to suicides, it appears people are going a bit further than just posting a status update.

It’s the picture some just can't erase even though Facebook Live has since pulled it down.

"They film these horrific acts we wouldn’t see unless we were just there, and now the world has seen this horrible thing that happened and that's unnecessary," said Kimberly Koehler.

The man in the video is 33-year-old Jared McLemore, and shortly after dousing himself in kerosene, flames are ignited and a screaming man of fire rushes into a Midtown bar full of people.

"I saw Jared run in on fire from foot to head, it looked almost like a movie there where people who thought it was a joke," said Koehler.

It was no laughing matter and as people pat the man down, throwing blankets, coats and even shirts his way to try to put out the flames, it became clear that this all began far beyond logging on and going live on Facebook — that’s just where it played it out.

"Sometimes people are doing it as a way to memorialize themselves. Some do it as a cry for help hoping someone will get to them in time," said Turning Point CEO Bobby Scott.

In McLemore’s case, there may have been more to the story. According to those who knew him, it may have been the perfect storm: his mental issues clashing with his inability to move on from his ex-girlfriend, who had a restraining against him and was right across the street from the spot where he showed the world he was ready to end it all.

"It may be that he was trying to punish her, get back at her or get revenge," added Scott.

"I don’t think he knew the ramifications of what he had done, he seemed to be in horrible pain and regret," said Koehler.

Scott says Facebook Live isn’t an evil thing, but when someone hits share with ill intentions an audience gets a front-row seat to whatever happens next.

"How does this effect the people who are seeing this online? It has to have a dramatic, negative impact on them," added Scott.

While it may be a way for people to put it all out there, that doesn’t keep it from trending, showing up on timelines and causing damage that pulling it down simply can’t correct.

If you are someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, there are people who can help, like Turning Point's hotline at 1.888.614.2251. To access more information check out Turningpointtreatment.org.

A Facebook spokesperson sent WREG the following statement:

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Jared McLemore. We don’t allow the promotion of self-injury or suicide on Facebook. We want people to have a safe experience on Facebook and we work with organizations around the world to provide assistance for people in distress.”


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