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    "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered."
    Nelson Mandela, posted by Daniel

David Baxter

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Website blamed for student suicide
Thursday 18th November 2004
By Lucy Sherriff, The Register

A Coroner has condemmed an online suicide guide after a medical student hanged himself following directions on the site. Liverpool Coroner Andre Rebello asked Yahoo! to pull the plug on the Holland-based site, but the company refused.

Arwel Davies, 22, was found hanging from a hook on his bedroom door, the Coroners court heard. Police were called to the scene by Davies' friend, Andrew Baker, who became concerned when he couldn't reach Davies by mobile phone. He discovered the body after breaking into Davies' bedroom.

Authorities suspect messages posted on the site encouraged Davies to end his life. The police found a nine-page print-out from the site, detailing various methods of committing suicide, along with notes on preparing for death, The Sun reports.

Rebello said Davies had become obsessed with suicide and self-harm. He had been treated for depression after a failed suicide attempt earlier in the year. He had tried to overdose on paracetamol. The Coroner told the court: "It is the height of irresponsibility to publish a site which could encourage someone to be tipped over the edge. The internet is there to educate and improve life, not destroy it."

This is far from the first time the internet has been implicated in a suicide. In October this year, seven young Japanese men and women were found dead in a car, apparently as the result of an internet suicide pact.
 

David Baxter

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It is. And whatever problems SpaceTime may have, it's what was wrong with what some of the flamers were posting at the other forum he complained about.

I'm pleased to see those threads have been removed now (at the other forum I mean) -- I'm not sure if ThatLady had anything to do with removing them but at least it's nice to see saner minds prevailing even on a gaming site.
 

hkfiesta

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thanks for sharing this..
while that website has some blame, and yes the internet can be quite influencial, do you(anyone whos reading) believe that its truly just that website's fault?
sorry, not trying to convince anything, or challenge anyone's pov.
while i totally agree that

The internet is there to educate and improve life, not destroy it."
Liverpool Coroner Andre Rebello asked Yahoo! to pull the plug on the Holland-based site, but the company refused.

if someone really did want to self-harm, and was determined, if that website were not there, there's so many other websites all over the internet.

how can society decrease these happenings? will making a site close down really do the trick? if so, a lot of websites would be in trouble, and the internet is currently quite a 'free' place for websites of all sorts. comments?

no offence to anyone out there.. ^^
 

David Baxter

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No offence taken, hkfiesta.

You're right, to a point. If you remove one of those sites, there are doubtless others, or new ones will appear. On the other hand, one can say the same thing about other antisocial acts... For example, if someone is propagating hate literature, do you turn away saying, "Oh what's the point -- if I arrest him, someone else will take his place"? Or if you see someone breaking into your neighbor's house, do you say, "No point in doing anything - if I stop him, someone else will come along and take his place"? I think part of what we are doing is saying, "That is simply unacceptable to those of us who live in this society -- it is WRONG and we will not stand by and do nothing".

You are also correct in that a person who is determined to commit suicide, as perhaps was the case for the individual in this news story, he or she will eventually do it. As a therapist, I have been faced with that possibility in clients in the past. But I see one of the things I can do is delay it, and while I am delaying that possibility do what is within my power to convince the individual that that option is neither necessary nor desirable. Even doing nothing might allow the person to come to the same conclusion; encouraging him or her to simply go ahead and "helping" the person with suggestions on methods is, in my firm opinion, completely wrong, unacceptable, and abhorrent.
 
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David Baxter said:
encouraging him or her to simply go ahead and "helping" the person with suggestions on methods is, in my firm opinion, completely wrong, unacceptable, and abhorrent.

I agree. And, in my mind, it should be illegal. I actually found a couple of those websites a few months back at a really dark point in my life and they sickened me.
 

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From what I have seen, there are basically two different kinds of suicide sites. There are the ones that actively promote suicide and say that life, in general, is not worth living. Other, more professional Internet suicide sites (like those by the Hemlock Society) are more neutral in their publication of suicide methods and are intended more for the terminally-ill crowd.

There is no objective, scientific study that I have seen that shows that any Internet site or book has increased the rate of suicide overall, though certainly some people would be alive today if it were not for "Final Exit" and pro-suicide Internet sites.

According to the research I have seen, the publication of "Final Exit" did not result in an increase in suicide though it did help change the popularity of different suicide methods.

My point is simply that suicide internet sites may actually decrease the suicide rate in some subtle ways while also increasing the suicide rate.

Given the fact that over 19,000 Americans are permanently disabled each year due to botched suicide attempts, I would be hesitant to take away books or web sites like "Final Exit." However, suicide web sites that actively promote suicide--rather than simply inform--should be taken down since they are pathological from the start.
 

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Perhaps.

But I am also opposed adamantly to doing anything to promote such sites. Both for reasons of personal principle and for ethical and legal reasons.

For the record (I'm not accusing anyone of anything here -- just taking the opportunity to mention it), this forum will not permit any links to pro-suicide web sites or publications to be posted. I accept that this policy may seem unfair to some, but I ask that everyone respect it anyway.
 

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The real problem, it seems to me, is the sheer number of suicide websites and the number of people in suicide newsgroups. A vulnerable, depressed person could easily get "tunnel vision" by going from one negative site to the next.
 

Ash

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I just can't see blaming an internet sight on it. After all, that person took the time to figure out what he was going to do. If someone is indeed suicidal, more than likely they're going to do themselves in.
 

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Yes, the real culprit is the impulsive nature of suicide--"the savage god" that makes "night fall fast." A few years ago, I asked my psychiatrist why the advent of SSRIs did not lower the suicide rate much, if at all, and he said it was because of the impulsivity of suicide.
 

Ash

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Yep. Even medicated, people still manage to follow that white rabbit...
 

David Baxter

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Ash said:
I just can't see blaming an internet sight on it. After all, that person took the time to figure out what he was going to do. If someone is indeed suicidal, more than likely they're going to do themselves in.
I think the point that is missed here is that most people who talk about wanting to commit suicide do so because at least part of them wants to be shown another viable choice, to be talked out of it. To be in that state of mind and find a website that says, "you're right -- you should do it", is, in my opinion immoral -- it's also illegal in most jurisdictions by the way.

People who have truly made up their minds absolutely to suicide and who do not want to get talked out of it don't talk about it... they just do it.
 

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To be in that state of mind and find a website that says, "you're right -- you should do it", is, in my opinion immoral -- it's also illegal in most jurisdictions by the way.

Yes, but this has always been a problem, hasn't it? Obviously, it is now to a much greater degree and the writing is more direct.

When I was in college, I spent most of my time reading philosophy and literature. I probably read more pro-suicide stuff in the college library than I did on the Internet when I felt suicidal years before. Granted, the publications in the library were more subtle, but they were also more authoritative or respected.
 

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True. But information on the internet is so much more accessible -- no going to the library (or the video store) -- just a quick Google and it's there on your monitor -- no work, no effort -- the MTV phenomenon.

What worries me about the impact of the 'net is not college students or adults but children and young teens -- most of them would have been hard-pressed to find such information 10 years ago -- now it is everywhere.
 

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