Monday, December 26, 2005

body count:4; the usual method

Sunday, December 18, 2005

'Tis the season to be jolly...
Especially when news of such irony as the clash between Xtians and Wal-Mart reaches one's attention. It seems Wal-Mart has decided the proper way to greet customers this time of year is to use the phrase "happy holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas". Certain Xtians have been objecting to this, citing it as a secularization of Xmas, but since the more zealot Xtians have been deriding the commercialization of Xmas for a number of years now you'd think they'd be glad to see an attempt on the part of merchants to make their sales techniques less exploitive of that particular holiday. Or, at least, less blatantly an exploitation of that holiday.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Two separate pacts, actually, with a total of 8 dead. More than one method was employed, apparently.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Friday, December 02, 2005

A middle-aged man kills himself, apparently using information that he acquired on the net. Apparently the man's father figures the guy was too stupid to figure out a way to die without consulting the net first.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

One of the most interesting news stories i've read about the suicides in Japan was posted recently on the Japan Today site. Aside from pointing out that the most popular method of suicide in that country is hanging (in contrast to the impression one might get from news coverage that the most favored method uses carbon monoxide), there's an interesting blurb by psychiatrist Takahashi about women being "physiologically better equipped to resist the suicidal impulse than men." I'm not quite sure what that means; does it mean that female bodies are actually more robust than males?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Nitschke will relocate Exit International's website from Australia to New Zealand due to the repressive legislation of the former country.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

CNN is Yellow

There’s something ironic about a show named “Paula Zahn NOW” airing a story about an event that happened over two years ago. Even allowing time for the investigations required to produce the investigative journalism for which CNN supposedly prides itself, one has to wonder why it would take so long to sort through the facts and to listen to the opinions of all the parties involved. Part of the delay in airing that news segment on television was apparently due to the story being bumped in favor of covering the events related to a number of hurricanes that have recently left parts of the southern U.S. in shambles, but that wouldn’t account for why the story is airing years after the event took place. Given the nature of the news trade, one has to conclude that the story of Suzy Gonzales’ suicide really isn’t considered important by the CNN journalists; it’s one of those “filler” stories that is used to take up time in a news show when there’s nothing more interesting to report. It’s the equivalent of what’s called “small talk” in casual conversation.

There’s nothing wrong with small talk per se, but when investigative journalism indulges in it one would hope that the people producing the story would at least try to present a balanced view rather than try to palm off opinions as objective fact. The show blames the posters to Usenet group for the death of Suzy. Suzy’s father states that the newsgroup “brainwashed” his daughter into killing herself. But by her own account she had started thinking about suicide when she was 11 or 12 years old, years before she started interacting with the posters to that group. Why isn’t that mentioned in the show? The news story claims that posters of ASH “gave her the tools” with which to commit suicide, but if there was evidence that someone from ASH shipped her the cyanide or other paraphernalia with which she killed herself, why hasn’t that person been prosecuted under the existing laws of the land which prohibit such assistance?

Given that there are people who attest that their experience with ASH has actually encouraged them to live and that one of these people was interviewed for the news story, why wasn’t even 15 seconds of the 4 hours that were spent filming an interview with him included in the story? Is it because a “heartbreaking belief” makes better copy than the whole story?

And why doesn’t this “cautionary tale” provide any suggestions as to how parents could actually open a dialogue about suicide with their progeny? Earlier in the show there was a segment that encouraged parents to discuss with their kids what exactly it is they are learning in school; is the message here that it’s more important to know what one’s kids know about sex than it is to know if they are thinking of killing themselves?
Three girls commit suicide together without using the Internet.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

If anyone had doubts about "Intelligent Design" being a 21st Century mutation of Creationism it looks like Pat Robertson has affirmed that it indeed is.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Roger Graham, the U.S. national in Cambodia being sued for having a website extolling Cambodia as a place to die, shut the site down briefly, but now it's back online with his side of the story.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Evolving under our noses

In 1925 a teacher named Thomas Scopes was put on trial in the U.S. for teaching the scientific theory of Evolution in class in Tennessee. From all accounts of the trial the people who opposed Mr. Scopes demonstrated a level of understanding of science about on par with what one might expect from a monkey. From what I gather, the opponents held a rather simple view: if a theory of the origin of life was not fully compatible with the account of the origin of life as stated in the Christian Bible, then it was incorrect. Darwin’s theory of Evolution was a form of heresy.

Eighty years later (i.e., the present time), the Kansas State Board of Education has apparently decided that the most rational way to reconcile science with theology is to redefine science itself so that it is not explicitly limited to natural explanations. In other words, in Kansas a theory can invoke supernatural explanations of phenomena and still be considered “science” and therefore can be included in the curriculum of science education in that state. So the strategy of Creationists has changed: if they can’t force people to accept that theology trumps science, then the solution is to ignore the essential differences between the two and then insist that the two world views they represent get equal time in the classroom when the pupils are being taught about science. It is, in other words, a denial of one of the elements that makes science a science. Whatever claims the advocates of Intelligent Design make to legitimize their paradigm, they still fall short of being scientific because there is no way to test their theories. “Intelligent Design” is a black box that has to be accepted on faith if it’s accepted at all, and sheds about as much light on the mechanics of the origin of life as discussions of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

US national in Cambodia is currently in trouble for running websites that suggest that country is a good place to suicide. Perhaps he should have suggested Switzerland instead.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Terminally ill in Australia make their own suicide pill.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Q: What's a good way to be sure you won't be disturbed when attempting to commit suicide?
A: Hide in plain sight.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Meanwhile, back in the land of Oz...

Dr. Marianne Wyder has allegedly debunked the myth that suicide attempts are "always a pre-meditated, long planned act." This is of interest to me because it's the first i've heard of the myth despite my participating in various suicide fora for over a decade now. I suppose one learns something new every day.

Dr. Wyder astutely observes that:
It's important to understand the differences between those who attempt and those who die by suicide. Suicide and attempted suicide all share intentional or deliberate self-harming characteristics, but differ in the outcome.
Well, yes. The people who die are dead and the people who fail to die are still alive. That's a distinction that cannot be refuted, but the significance of the difference is not entirely clear.

Dr. Wyder, after interviewing 90 people who have attempted suicide, concludes that suicide attempts are impulsive, often influenced by the use of alcohol and other drugs, and that the suicidal impulse quickly dissipates after the attempt has been made. It would be more accurate, though, to conclude that incompetent attempts to die are often impulsive and made while under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. The only way the conclusion Wyder makes could be logically extended to all instances of suicide or attempted suicide would be to interview dead people and find their circumstances regarding planning, execution of method, and post-suicide attitude to be the same. However, the dead don't usually give interviews. Maybe they're dead because they spent more time planning a better method and/or because they were more strongly motivated by a death wish that was chronic.

And, of course, Dr. Wyder's conclusions are based on the assumption that the people interviewed are being truthful. Given the circumstances of the interview (i.e., being questioned about the circumstances of their attempt as soon as possible after the attempt), they would have plenty of motivation to lie about how much time they spent planning their death and/or whether they still wanted to die if being truthful meant being involuntarily committed to a psych ward.

If anyone can provide a source for the "suicide is *always* a long-planned act" myth, i'd be glad to hear of it.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Highlands to pay £17,000 for ‘suicide poet’
Why they can't simply use preexisting poetry by suicidal people is something i don't understand, but then perhaps copyright issues have something to do with it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Non Sequitors R Us
Journalist Ian Cobain demonstrated his own prejudice when he wrote this:
At its inception, the website claimed to avoid anything to encourage suicide. However, it is understood to have been passed on to another host in Washington DC, who then handed it over to a man in California, who in turn passed it to its current host, Karin Spaink, a Dutch journalist. In its current guise, the website gives a direct link to the site of the suicide postings.

That the site in question has been maintained by various people over the past several years is hardly relevant to whether or not one construes its contents as being meant to incite suicide. That it also has a link to archives of the posts made to Usenet group could only be construed as encouraging suicide if one believed that discussion of this topic is impossible without encouraging suicide. But if that were true then there wouldn't be much point in trying to talk AOL and Yahoo into making sure that the Samaritans always got put at the top of any search results that have to do with suicide.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Quote of the Day
Traditional Gypsy life has mostly disappeared in Britain. But there was, and is, nothing inevitable about that. Mechanization- the machine-made plastic peg- is not really to blame. Rather, it is the work of lawmakers who have pandered to universal but unfounded fears. [...] Regulations on all sites, public or private, rule out nearly all occupations that guarantee Gypsies some independence. So there goes the trade in Christmas trees, scrap metal, horses, and cars, along with the traveling jobs of tree-lopping, tarmacking, and gate-making. Therefore, inevitably, everyone is on welfare. Very often, those who don't move on become, like American Indians on their reservations, Gypsies with problems.

-from Bury Me Standing by Isabel Fonseca

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Suicide pact in the UK is reported to be the first of its kind
I guess that means the aborted pact of Gooden & Gillies a few years ago doesn't count. Either that or the Brits have an exceptionally short memory.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Hail Britannia
To make a long story short, some British soldier (who were not in uniform) shot some Iraqi police, but were detained by other Iraqi police and put into jail. London claims the detained British were "freed after negotiations", but that process seems to have included the use of tanks and helicopters to blow a huge hole in a wall of the prison they were being kept.

It's nice to see how sincere the occupation forces in Iraq (especially the Brits) are about allowing Iraqis to rule their own country and to enforce their own laws in it.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Chicken Little is still screaming
There has to be a cultural element to the coverage of suicide in the UK that i don't understand. Literally thousands of people over there commit suicide and the general coverage,while it laments this fact, is decidedly factual. On the other hand, when it comes to suicides that have some sort of connection to the Internet, the reporting is almost always torrid over there. Thousands of people are killing themselves over there, and the experts all have something to say about it: people are said to be killing themselves because they don't see where they fit in with the rest of society etc., but if that person had any contact with an online suicide forum, suddenly it's as if none of those other factors have any significance at all and it's declared a "horrifying" fact that a grand total of less than 10 people have died after having been allegedly pushed to kill themselves by reading the information in the forum. If the subjects of the UK are so easily swayed by what they read on the Net that the offline elements of their lives that influence their decisions become insignificant by comparison, perhaps the happiest solution to this "horror" is to make access to the Internet illegal in the UK, period.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

It has come to light that Carina Stephenson not only searched the web for information on suicide methods, she first disabled the nanny-ware that was on the family computer that was meant to prevent her from searching the net for sites her parents considered inappropriate.

So, let's see if i have this straight: a 17 year old adolescent (who apparently wasn't so jolly before going to Australia afterall), goes to a foreign land to be filmed for four months while living in highly primitive conditions so as to get away from whatever it was in the UK that she found so distressing, comes back apparently even worse off emotionally since she turns reclusive, at some point she disables software with the intent of finding information her parents didn't want her to see, and then uses the information to kill herself, and the suicide fora she consulted are being blamed as the cause of her death? I have to give credit to her mother for trying to be a responsible parent insofar as she had the nanny-ware installed, but if her sprog was smart enough to figure out how to disable it, why does she suppose that her "funny girl" couldn't figure out a suicide method on her own if the sites didn't exist? And given the apparently chronic nature of her daughter's problems and the apparent lack of communication between them, where did she ever get the idea that she and her daughter were "best friends"?

Friday, September 09, 2005

Lions & Tigers & Pixels -OH, MY!

Earlier this year in the UK, 17 year old Carina Stephenson, "by all accounts a vivacious 17-year-old" hung herself. Why did she do it? Unless she explicitly explained why in one of her three suicide notes, nobody will probably ever know. But it's probably safe to guess that her spending four months taking part in the filming of a reality show that is set in the Australian outback had something to do with it; after having endured the primitive conditions there, upon her return to the UK she became reclusive, no longer apparently the "well balanced, normal, happy and healthy girl" she had been before. So why all the renewed fuss in the media about suicide fora on the internet? Because the fora are being blamed for this death, too. Yes, it would appear that Carina's mother is convinced that if it were not for the existence of suicide fora, her daughter would still be alive today.

But reading suicide fora on the net didn't make Carina suicidal, she was already suicidal from having to put up with heaven knows what for four months on a strange continent. I'm guessing that the family signed some sort of waiver when it agreed to participate in the filming of the show that would absolve the show's producer's from any legal responsibility should the stress of primitive living be too much, because that's the only way i can rationally account for the lack of finger pointing at the show's producers. One has to wonder if the people being filmed for this show were paid anything resembling a decent compensation for their time and their troubles.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Suicide pact in Taiwan uses CO method, kills two.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Unofficial travel advisory
The United State issues travel warnings for its citizens when it feels that it would be hazardous for its citizens to travel to that area. With that in mind, i would like to hereby issue a travel warning for the city of London in the United Kingdom, as apparently the Metropolitan Police there have proved themselves to be not only recklessly deadly when armed, but to be willing to lie about it later.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

body count:3; method: CO poisoning
These details and more are available on at least four different Australian websites. If CO becomes a significant suicide method in Australia, might one not wonder if such deaths were inspired by such information?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Quote of the day:

They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security

-Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Infections may kill 100 patients a day. Something to keep in mind if you ever visit hospitals.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Blame the Internet
Reporter Richard Lloyd Parry asks an interesting question:
But what about Naomi and little Koyuki Tanaka and the 14 teenagers who are known to have died in cyber suicide pacts? Would they not be alive now, if it were not for the Internet?
Mr. Parry here refers to a mother who apparently strangled her own six year old child before travelling to meet strangers to participate in a suicide pact. It's easy to think that if people didn't have access to the net, they wouldn't participate in pacts and that they would therefore still be alive. And one would like to think that in such a situation a mother wouldn't turn and kill her own six year old daughter. But there's no way of knowing for certain that that is how it would turn out; who is to say that Naomi wouldn't have decided to kill her kid and then go hang herself somewhere alone? And more interestingly, why is it in all this alarm about pacts made on the net that people appear to be essentially ignoring those aspects of the lives of those who suicide which motivated them to suicide in the first place? I've yet to meet anyone who simply woke up one day and decided, out of the blue, that it was time to die.

What's the message here? Mr. Parry clucks that the Japanese have not found a "balance" of the Internet's potential to facilitate "communication and destruction" If both entities being compared to each other are in "balance", then they are effectively canceling each other out; that is, there is as much of the one being promoted as the other. Is that what Mr. Parry wants? Is that what he and people who agree with him are willing to accept? How would one quantify the two aspects to determine whether or not they are even close to being balanced?

I would like to suggest to the critics of the Internet and how people use it that if there is an imbalance in how the net is being used that it is an imbalance inherent in the human culture, and that attempts to stifle what one considers to be a misuse of a tool of communication by censoring that tool in no way addresses whatever underlying problems there are with how people behave toward one another.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Japan to censor websites that provide information about suicide pacts, among other things.

This is actually rather old news, but it seems to me that it's finally time to ask a couple of questions:
  1. Will they also censor news websites, since rather often the story of a suicide pact has included useful tips on how to copy the method used?

  2. Unless the Japanese government is planning to ban all websites that are meant to encourage meeting/socializing, how do they plan to deal with the development of euphemisms such as "catching the bus" which would slip past software designed to identify material that discusses suicide?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

It seems that accused kidnapper Joseph Duncan kept a blog. Wired wrote an article about it and all the attention it's been getting lately.
Perhaps the most common sentiment wonders how Duncan's increasingly disturbed postings failed to draw law enforcement attention before his arrest.

Given that he was also apparently a convicted sex offender, that's a very good question, since supposedly the Law keeps closer tabs on people like that. But then, in a country where even restraining orders don't appear to be worth the paper they're printed on, perhaps the inattention by law enforcement officers is understandable. The blog didn't even appear to get much attention from ordinary people, either--until the media called it to their attention. Now, in addition to documenting the thoughts of Mr. Duncan, the blog also records the reactions of hundreds of people who wouldn't know him from Adam if the news hadn't brought him to their attention in the first place.

It's entirely possible the blog escaped the attention of the Law because there's such a proliferation of data on the net that it simply isn't possible to sort through every byte in search of material that potentially breaks a law, much less for any and all information that potentially incriminates a person. It's also possible that the Law was actually aware of the blog before his arrest, but if there's nothing in it that amounts to confession of a crime or a violation of a law, then what of it?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Suicide pact in Taiwan leaves two dead

What is interesting about this story is that it claims that suicide pacts made over the internet started in Japan, whereas the first instance of this that i've heard of was in Europe. Has anyone who reads this blog heard of a pact made over the net that occurred before 2000 in Japan?

Thursday, June 30, 2005

My only regret is that i was not able to get this out in a more timely fashion:

an open letter to Senator Brian Harradine of Australia

Not that i suppose that he really gives a hoot what some foreigner thinks of either him or his policies, but sometimes a Yank just has to speak hir mind about things...

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Clue #432 that the United States is really an oligarchy:

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Non Sequitor
U.S. Congress wants to make some changes to the provisions of the Patriot Act, and the resistance they're getting fascinates me.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told Congress in April that the government has never used the provision to obtain library, bookstore, medical or gun sale records.

But when asked whether the administration would agree to exclude library and medical records from the law, Gonzales demurred. "It should not be held against us that we have exercised restraint," he said.

If Gonzales et al really think that it's a matter of holding something against them, then it's doubtful that they really understand the issue at all.

Monday, June 13, 2005

A college student in Japan has been sentenced for his role in a suicide pact between himself and two others which resulted in the death of one person.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

It's official; nearly half of Americans (U.S.) are NUTS
Or at least that's what a survey in the June issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry implies.

Do you suppose that wholesome, All-American lifestyle has anything to do with it?
random musing
More often than not, i often hear of what goes on offline being referred to as "real life", with the implication that what happens online isn't real. I'm not entirely sure why. You'd think with that line of thinking that nobody really dies in a suicide pact made online, since, afterall, the pact was all part of some not-real fantasy zone.

Monday, June 06, 2005

And the Experts can't understand why they aren't more popular...
A mental hospital in California is being investigated after five teenagers escaped and one hung herself. Nevermind that neither the patients nor the staff there appear to have adequate protection against being assaulted, what is really interesting about this story is that it appears that quite a number of the inmates are being misdiagnosed and, naturally, given improper medications. Remember, the folks running this facility aren't laymen; they're supposedly trained professionals who know what they are doing.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Meanwhile, in the land of Oz...
For those of you who don't know, Australia is considering legislation that would make discussion of suicide methodology via the internet a crime. One of it's main proponents, Senator Brian Harradine, is quite vocal in his support of the proposed law, claiming:

the bill under consideration educate[s] society that there is value in the life of every human being, and that special care should be provided to those who are vulnerable for any number of reasons.

Given that adolescents who are identified as homosexuals have a higher rate of suicide than the general population of that age bracket, and given Harradine's record of persecuting homosexuals, i have to wonder how sincere he is about finding value in the life of every human; some of the ideas that can be logically inferred from the combination of his words and actions are, to say the least, disturbing.

What is particularly puzzling is this: if Harradine is convinced that the people of Australia should provide assistance to "vulnerable" people, then why waste money on the creation and enforcement of a law that does absolutely nothing to provide the type of support these people apparently need? This law makes no provisions for treating depression, though Harradine repeatedly points to depression as a causal factor of suicide, nor does it do anything else than criminalize people for what amounts to what Orwell would call a "thought crime". It will make mere possession of descriptions of means to suicide a crime even if the person possessing it has no intention of disseminating the information and even though suicide per se is not a crime in Australia.

I plan to write more on this topic later.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Suicide pact in Okinawa
body count: 3 method: hanging

Monday, May 30, 2005

A ban on ball-point pens would be the next logical step
Some doctors in Britain are calling for a ban of pointed kitchen knives. They are apparently the weapon of choice since guns are highly restricted over there. This goes to show that banning objects does not really change how people relate to one another.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

A 24 year old in Japan has been arrested for trying to coordinate a suicide pact which would have involved himself and two 15 year olds.

Friday, May 13, 2005

It's almost funny
U.S. inmate Michael Ross on death row has waived all further appeals of his sentence and has been recently executed. Despite his having been found competent by the courts, attorney Polan and some others claim that his willingness to accept death indicates, in and of itself, that he was insane. Also, opponents of the death penalty predict that the execution will trigger a chain reaction in the area that will "break down" barriers against capital punishment. It's not clear to me how an inmate accepting his death sentence is going to encourage juries and courts to impose the death penalty on a more regular basis; supposedly those upright citizens are all sane and of sound morality, so if they find the sentence repugnant and only impose it as punishment for the most heinous of crimes, it's doubtful that the frequency of that sentence is going to increase unless, that is, more people commit such crimes. But it's incredulous to think that someone who is determined to die would choose this as a method; it's much less trouble to jump off a bridge or hang. And if someone was so twisted as to rape and kill other people with a view toward getting a free lethal injection for himself, perhaps the kindest thing a person could do for him and for society as a whole would be to grant his wish, preferably before he could do either of those things.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

body count: 5
The usual method was employed

Monday, May 09, 2005

body count: 3
Interestingly, while the police decline to give a statement as to how these three people may have known each other, the news story very helpfully points out that a number of suicide pacts have been made over the web in that country. They also point out that news of groups suicides seems to spark copycat incidents.

So, should the journalists who wrote up this story be held responsible for the next group suicide?

Friday, April 29, 2005

Two separate suicide websites based in Taiwan have been shut down by the local police. Coincidentally both had also posted the complete contents of a suicide manual written by Tsurumi Wataru (whose name was mispelled in the article written in English that was edited by a person named Elmarie Jack). Since the owners of the sites are being charged with helping other folks suicide rather than with copyright infringement, we can be reasonably sure that the RIAA is not involved .

BTW, Tsurumi's book, "The Complete Manual of Suicide", is a bestseller in Japan.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

It seems that most adults in the U.S. favor physician-assisted suicide.

Friday, April 22, 2005

ISPs in Japan are being pressured to provide information on individuals to the police on request when the police think that person is involved in a suicide pact. In the past, when the police have approached the ISPs about such things they have been asked to provide a search warrant before they'll be given the information, but since declaring one's intent to participate in a suicide pact isn't a crime, the search warrant can't be issued.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

UK woman charged with manslaughter for not intervening on her husband's suicide.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A Canadian man is on trial for assisting the suicide of his wife.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Another group suicide in Japan, but this time it appears to be a woman and three children. Since only one of the people involved was an adult, i'd hesitate to call this a suicide pact.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The CDC lists the following as risk factors that increase the likelihood of a person committing suicide:

  • Previous suicide attempt(s)
  • History of mental disorders, particularly depression
  • History of alcohol and substance abuse
  • Family history of suicide
  • Family history of child maltreatment
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
  • Barriers to accessing mental health treatment
  • Loss (relational, social, work, or financial)
  • Physical illness
  • Easy access to lethal methods
  • Unwillingness to seek help because of the stigma attached to mental health and substance abuse disorders or suicidal thoughts
  • Cultural and religious beliefs—for instance, the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma
  • Local epidemics of suicide
  • Isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other people

Now, don't those risk factors cover just about every person in the U.S.of A. if not the world? And if an "unwillingness to seek help because of the stigma..." is a risk factor, perhaps the CDC should add another factor to their list, namely:
  • Unwillingness to seek help because of the risk of being drugged and incarcerated against one's will.

Not having access to the resources required to study suicide 'scientifically', I can only guess as to how many people have killed themselves because they did not want to lose control over themselves the way a person loses control when he is the object of a forced intervention. But I do know that there are people who have done that. And until the Mental Health Profession is willing to explicitly examine the ways in which it actually encourages suicide, it is going to fail to fully understand the reasons why people suicide.

Friday, April 08, 2005

According to Madelyn Gould, who conducts research at the New York Psychiatric Institute, "some school officials are worried about being blamed if students harm themselves after taking a survey [that asks them if they are suicidal]". In other words, one of the reasons discussion of suicide is taboo is that people are concerned that merely mentioning it will provoke it, even though the evidence suggests otherwise.

But what does happen to a teenagers identified by such a survey as being suicidal? Do they get counseling that actually helps them to cope with their day to day existence? Are they respected as human beings or are they forcibly drugged and/or tossed into a mental ward until their morale improves?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Suicide pact reported in Korea. Evidently the couple met online.

Monday, April 04, 2005

In the case of Laura Rhodes, it seems that the school officials blamed her for being bullied. I guess that's because it's easier to blame the victim than to actually do something about it.

I wonder how these same officials would feel if Laura had turned around and bombed the school instead of committing suicide.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Insert joke about light here.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

China tries to banish sites that discuss suicide. But then, censorship is almost a way of life over there, so that shouldn't really surprise anyone.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Body count: 5
Evidently there are over 100 sites to choose from in Japan should a person want to participate in a suicide pact.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Ask him if he really cares.

Caraway of Iowa did a long-distance intervention on a woman in Florida who informed him via the net of her intention to suicide.
"I'm not sure we'll talk again. I know she's mad at me for calling the police, but I don't really care," Caraway said. "I'm just glad she's OK."
And how, exactly, does Mr. Caraway know that she is now "OK"?

Friday, March 18, 2005

Just say 'Ho
It seems that teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are more likely than their peers to engage in sexual activity that (technically) leaves their virginity intact but increases their risk of getting a STD.

Do you suppose the irony of this will be lost on Dubya and the other abstinence promoters?
Quote of the day:

I was once asked by a right-wing American magazine: should any restrictions be placed on euthanasia generally? If I am depressed, do I qualify? If an elderly woman's husband dies and she says she no longer has anything to live for, would you help her kill herself? Who qualifies? Who decides if a life is worth living?

My response was that I do not believe that telling people they have a right to life while denying them the means, manner or information necessary for them to give this life away has any ethical consistency.

So all people qualify, not just those with the training, knowledge or resources to find out how to "give away" their life. This includes the depressed, the elderly bereaved, [and] the troubled teen. If we are to remain consistent and we believe that the individual has the right to dispose of their life, we should not erect artificial barriers in the way of sub-groups who don't meet our criteria.

(an excerpt from "Killing Me Softly" by Philip Nitschke and Fiona Stewart)

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Tanka 14-3-5

Befördet es ab.
Los ist nicht abänderlich
Der Schluß ist ganz gleich
Alles andere täuschen
Doch kann man es ablehnen

Monday, March 07, 2005

Senryu for you:
Optimistic youth
Huddled 'round a charcoal stove
Foreign pundits rave.

euclid k. 03March05

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

YASPIJ (Yet Another Suicide Pact In Japan)
Two groups found, total body count being 7

Friday, February 25, 2005

Someone in South Korea set himself on fire and managed to injure a couple dozen of other folks in the process. Apparently contrary to his wishes, he's still alive.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Quote of the day:
Saito, at the suicide hotline, warned that group suicides should not be blown out of proportion, adding that they make up only two percent of all Japanese suicides.

"The vast majority of suicides in Japan are by hanging," he said. "But that's not dramatic, so it doesn't make the news."

Remember that the next time you see some news story here in the West that features somebody verbally wringing hir hands about Internet mediated suicide pacts.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Yet another suicide pact has taken place in Japan. Body count:4

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I'd like to thank Mr. Maggitti for reminding the world that sometimes the healthiest response to a situation is to mock it.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Quote of the day:

We know that the Internet can be an evil place and we believe that it is being used definitely for the wrong reason here," Evinger said.

It's no worse than the newspapers, and it's certainly no worse than the world as a whole.

Friday, February 11, 2005

In case you haven't heard (it's being covered by over 100 websites already), some guy in Oregon has been busted for trying to coordinate a 32 person suicide pact via the net. Apparently they wouldn't meet up, but were to all log in on Valentine's Day and suicide in front of webcams. The Authorities are now busy tracking down the rest of the people supposedly involved in the pact. Doesn't that leave you feeling warm and loved all over?

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Nine more apparent suicides in Japan.

Friday, February 04, 2005

"If it Bleeds, it Leads"

That's supposedly one of the nuggets of journalistic wisdom that helps to decide which of the day's stories get top billing in a newspaper or other source of news. And it looks like many of today's English language news outlets subscribe to that adage. Want an example? How about the story about the guy who wrote what he thought would be his last words in his own blood? Within the past eight hours, that story has shown up on over 95 different English language websites that distribute news. Yeah, sure, it was awfully romantic of him, and with Valentine's Day less than two weeks away that's bound to strike a chord with lots of folks, but how much coverage do you think it would have gotten if he had done it with a felt-tip pen?

Monday, January 31, 2005

Oh, look. The sky is falling.
I guess this article on what some politicos in the UK are trying to do about "depraved" suicide web sites is part of a campaign to whip up public indignation.
In the interest of public safety and the protection of children and adolescents from reading dangerous information, they should also do something about censoring webpages that point out the potential lethality of particular plants that can be found growing in the neigborhood.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Two teenage girls tossed themselves from a cliff. The one whose body has not yet been found apparently kept a blog on which she expressed suicidal thoughts for about two months before killing herself.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Chinese teen kills himself. The internet bar he last visited is apparently being held responsible for the death, as its license has been revoked. I don't claim to understand.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Mainstream Newspaper Peddles Dope??

If you follow the journalistic stories about suicide fora on the internet, you've undoubtedly noticed that some of the journalists are hypocrites; some of them decry the fora as encouraging suicide while in the same article they provide details of a method of suicide, or their stories are accompanied by photos that appear to romanticise death while the story accuses the fora of trying to make suicide hip and cool. Lately, though, i've wondered if the discrepancy between what these journalists practice and what they preach is due to something other than hypocrisy.

Take, for instance, a rather comical convergence of information that took place on the website of a mainstream newspaper in the U.S. I don't think that the paper really meant to be effectively talking out of both sides of its mouth on that occasion, but occasions like that make me wonder if mainstream detractors of websites that discuss issues and ideas of which the mainstream apparently disapproves are giving any real thought to the subjects they write about, or whether they are exhibiting a verbal equivalent of some knee-jerk reflex.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

GI Joe Has Feelings, Too

Being rather bored i checked the statistics for my site that are auto-generated from the activity logs. It seems that last month (December '04), i caught the attention of the U.S. military. Or i caught the attention of somebody who uses the U.S. military's computers, as the number of hits from that source that month constituted about 1% of the traffic on my site for that month. Now, i realize that 1% of the traffic on a backwater, obscure site like mine isn't that many hits in terms of absolute numbers, but still, it makes me wonder what was so faaaaaaaaaaascinating to them that they had to keep coming back--i'm too lazy to check the actual logs to see which pages they actually visited. I've noticed from time to time a visit from some .gov or .mil, but it's usually just a few hits toward the end of the month, and not enough activity to actually show up as significant in the stats. So, what was so special about December?

The biggest change i made to the site back then was the addition of this blog, so mebbe that was it? Did i trigger some threshold value for the number of times the word "suicide" is written, making me a potential advocate of something of actual interest to them like, say, suicide bombers? Perhaps. Personally, i would think that a site that carried on at great length about fertilizers without showing the slightest interest in either gardening or agriculture to be far more suspicious, but that's just me. Or maybe it was someone trying to gain insight into why so many members of the U.S. military stationed in Iraq are apparently committing suicide. If the latter is the case, then here's your answer, captain:

People kill themselves when they find themselves in an unbearable situation in which they see no better alternative than death. They kill themselves when they cease to hope for anything better. You may own that soldier's ass while he's enlisted, but he still has the final say on what he's willing to put up with. So if you'd rather GI Joe not suicide, you need to actually pay attention to how he feels about what he's being asked to do and the conditions under which he's being asked to do it.

Yeah, that's right. I'm asking you to pay attention to soldiers' feelings. And if you think that's an absurd request, then i marvel that you would give a damn about humans killing themselves in the first place.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Europe Suicide Rate is #1

WHO reports that Europe has the highest suicide rate, and that the number of cases involving younger people is growing.