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