Year: 2022 Source: Psychiatry, Psychology and Law. (2019). 26(3), 423-440. doi: 10.1080/13218719.2018.1506719. SIEC No: 20220123

To understand the social and legal issues posed by suicide-related communications over the Internet (messages of threatened suicide and advocated suicide), this article examines a selection of cases involving different types of online baiting and harassment that illustrate different legal and technological issues. The anonymity afforded by computer-mediated communication allows bullies to harass vulnerable individuals and leak (disclose) their personal information. Computer mediation of communication potentially diffuses responsibility; imposes a temporal asynchrony between signified intent and audience response; and reduces the empathy that might motivate observers or witnesses to intervene and render assistance, factors that make online baiting a serious social, legal and technological problem. Potential actions (both legal and technological) for addressing this problem are outlined.