The case seemed to bring together many of the factors that put the vulnerable even more at risk: technology that can record and distribute private acts in a matter of minutes; the failure -- especially among many younger users of social media -- to understand the potential consequences of their postings; and the uncertain state of the law in many places.
It also highlighted an epidemic of teenage suicides in the United States -- one that has coincided with the immersion of that age group in social media and texting for hours at a stretch. Schoolyard bullying ends when recess does; cyber-bullying is 24/7 and reaches into the bedroom, the mall and the classroom.
When 15-year old Phoebe Prince killed herself in Massachusetts two years ago, another student at her school told the media: "Someone told her to go hang herself, and I don't really know who that was, but she was getting bullied by some people, because there were people talking about her and I guess she didn't like being hated."
At first glance, many of these cases bear little resemblance to that of Jacintha Saldanha. But there are common threads.
In the 21st century, personal humiliation can quickly go viral thanks to the reach and appetite of both social and mainstream media. Within hours, the minor transgressions and innocent mistakes, the private behavior and anxieties of ordinary people can reach, or seem to reach, the ends of the earth. For a few, that exposure is quickly overwhelming.