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The Forum > Article Comments > Suicidal Internet > Comments

Suicidal Internet : Comments

By Tanveer Ahmed, published 4/5/2007

The deaths of the two Melbourne teenagers who met on MySpace signify a worrying trend in the growth of Internet mediated group suicide.

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Where did you get the information that the two girls met on Myspace? The information I have read all said the two girls did not meet on but that they went to the same school, were in a band together and happened to have Myspace pages.

20 years ago the two girls would have kept private journals, that no one else could read and no doubt still decided to commit suicide (one can assume that they had talked about this in real life, perhaps at school or band practice, or on weekends when they would spend time together). There is certainly no entry on their Myspace page that says "I'm thinking of killing myself, whose with me?". This year though they had online journals, they publicly shared their thoughts with the world. The real tragedy is that no one read them and realised what was happening. Oh wait, could that be because they never said they were thinking of killing themselves? The response from all of their friends on Myspace was "why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you ask me for help"

Copycat suicides are also not a new phenomena, in the 1980s fans of Japanese idol Okado Yukiko committed suicide after it was reported on the news that she had jumped to her death from a 7th floor office. Fans of Kurt Cobain were reported to have committed suicide after his 1994 suicide, and in 1774 Goethe's novel "The Sorrows of Young Werther" apparently induced hundreds of young men to commit suicide in a similar fashion, giving copycat suicide the name "werther effect".
Posted by Patrick, Friday, 4 May 2007 10:06:25 AM
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Hi Tan

Once again you have presented a brilliant article.

I fear for my nieces, whose mother committed suicide by gasing when her children were 18 mths and 5 mths old.

I have been a mental health nurse since 1978. I despair for our young. The internet has a lot to answer for - as do parents who do not "parent" their children.

Many thanks
Posted by kalweb, Saturday, 5 May 2007 9:40:12 PM
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I was about to ask why you regard this as an 'internet suicide' when the girls involved met at school, but I see that Patrick has beaten me to it.

As Patrick says, Jodie and Stephanie met at school six months ago when Jodie moved back into the area. They saw each other every day. They played in a band together, and they each had a number of websites. Jodie in particular used her MySpace page to get back in contact with people that she had been to Primary School with in the area.

Those same young people used MySpace to support each other on the days after the news of what happened. People who knew Jodie, but didn't know Steph and vice versa were put in touch with each other to discuss how they were feeling, and offer each other help.

MySpace is a communication tool. The Internet is a communication tool. People will use it in many ways, but it is simply a tool.

They played in a band. Should we blame music?
They dyed their hair. Should we be concerned?
They actually met at school. Perhaos we should rethink education. Take up homeschooling?
They had websites. Oh well, that must be it then.

How nice to find an easy answer.
Posted by Eve, Saturday, 5 May 2007 9:47:05 PM
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Minute associations amongst those who committed or attempted suicide deaths with internet involvement will not bring any clear causal relationship event to those blaming the internet. Is human nature to blame things not understood for all failings, so the internet as a medium of communciation is certainly difficult to understand by many; BTW largely because they look for complexity where simple is the solution.

Those claiming internet as causal relationship for these actions need admit the very acts of reading and writing are far closer in association amongst many of those who committed or attempted suicide.

Should we restrict teaching of reading and writing ?

Is my observation involvement with internet is beneficial, it enables people to communicate with others, express their frustrations, discuss the issues which create these frustrations, often so reducing such frustrations, or resolving issues; Calming minds by internet can be a process similar to the tradional confessional process.

Internet enables participation in this process when felt necessary by the individual. Something often either not available or not acceptable through face to face contacts.

Is important we enable access to high speed internet communications so all those residing in rural and more remote areas can participate, can feel always part of a wider community, where their concerns can be expressed, recognised and responded to.

Most of my family live in rural and or remote areas, youth suicide is not uncommon, death or serious injury from misadventure and violence is common, literacy is not encouraged which perhaps is why powers that be continue to obstruct providing within communities public access to the internet fearing people might communicate, might think differently, or worse may be able to help themselves..
Posted by polpak, Monday, 7 May 2007 9:53:34 AM
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What does the Internet have to do with young people's dispair? As previous posters noted, the internet is a great way to communicate.

Having teenagers myself, I've noted the emo's, my kids have given me indept explanations as to what they stand for. I wanted to know. My step-son, who lived with myself and his Dad for most of his life imagined himself to be an emo at one stage. His father had noticed cuts on his ankles and feet.

So we talked. And listened to what he had to say and what his rationale was. We spoke to him about how we felt about his self-harm. We told him how his despair, that he couldn't really articulate, made us feel despair as parents who love him. We also told him about our own struggles and moment of despair when we were teenagers and what we did. We also let him know that there are places he can talk to good people who will keep what he has to say private.

I get concerned about people talking about 'parenting'. It sounds authoritarian and not authoritive. It doesn't sound at all like two way communication with the young people in your house. It doesn't sound at all that you are even interested in the person. Children are not aliens, they are less experienced humans beings.

I feel for the parents of these girls. It is a horror unimaginable. To even imply deficient parenting because of access to the internet is cruel and very unhelpful. If only this could have been prevented with a net nanny or no internet access.
Posted by yvonne, Monday, 7 May 2007 7:03:33 PM
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Patric beat us all to it. The internet may or may not be an element in this. But in my studies in suicides, such trends have been happening before myspace.

Some are missing the point and have not looked into "emo" culture. What is an "emo"? What is a "goth"? Both have some interest in death. This is not unusual in teenagers, it is even trendy for some, but it can be a symptom of depression. It doesn't help suicidal risk, but oppressing it could just make it worse for them. Let them express themselves!

Why are they depressed? Again, this is nothing new for teenagers. I don't remember many happy teenagers when I went to school. Most faced unemployment and the prospect of what we saw as destiny was depressing.

At least we had ways to express teenage angst. We had punk, hippies, even skins, and yes goths, the "trendies" and so on. Art and expression, especially community radio was part of being "radical". Looking back, it was more survivalist that radical. The radical thing just made us feel better.

Yes, we were grafitti brats, skateboard degenerates, we had spikes that couldn't fit under the harbour bridge. We spat on innocent business people, spat on Renaults or anything French as they were bombing the Pacific. Yeah, we were "aweful Muriel". But we didn't kill ourselves.

Non conformity saved our lives.

Now teenagers expect each other to confirm. It is stiffling and difficult to watch. I am not surprised at all that they are depressed and suicidal. I'm so glad that I'm not a teenager today!
Posted by saintfletcher, Tuesday, 8 May 2007 2:02:57 AM
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