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An Internet suicide (also known as cybersuicide or cybercide) is a suicide that is somehow related to the Internet. Sometimes, suicidal individuals seek to announce their deaths to online acquaintances, or even broadcast them live via webcam.

An Internet suicide pact is a suicide pact made between individuals who meet on the Internet. The majority of such Internet-related suicide pacts have occurred in Japan, which has one of the highest overall suicide rates in the world, but similar incidents are also being reported in Hong Kong, South Korea, Germany, Australia, Norway, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and Sweden. Though the first known Internet-related suicide pact occurred in Japan in October 2000, it was a later February 2003 incident, involving a young man and two young women, that "became a landmark incident of Internet suicide pacts in Japan due to heavy media coverage". [1]

Despite the alarmed response of the media, however, Internet-connected suicide pacts are still relatively rare. Even in Japan, where most of such pacts have occurred, they still represent only 2% of all group suicide-pacts, and less than 0.01% of all suicides combined. However, they do seem to be on the increase in that country: 34 deaths from such pacts occurred in 2003; at least 50 are estimated to have occurred in 2004; and 91 occurred in 2005. [2] [3] [4]

Legal consequences Edit

In the United States, if a person makes suggestions of a suicide pact on the internet, then he or she can be arrested for murder or attempted murder, as in the widely reported 2005 case of Gerald Krein of Klamath Falls, Oregon, who allegedly planned a post-orgy mass suicide-by-hanging with 32 women on the Internet. The women were from the United States and Canada. There is currently no information on the internet about the status of Krein's trial. He has been charged with solicitation to commit murder and conspiracy to commit manslaughter.

Compared to traditional suicide pacts Edit

A recent Internet article published by the Canterbury Suicide Project ("Suicide Pacts", Christchurch School of Medicine, New Zealand, May 2005) makes some notable comparisons between the nature of "traditional" suicide pacts and more recent Internet-related suicide pacts (or, as described in the article, "cyber-based suicide pacts"). It points out that, traditionally, suicide pacts have been extremely rare; usually involve older individuals (50–60 years old) and very few adolescents; and tend to be between individuals with family or marriage-type relationships and differing, but complementary, psychiatric pathologies. On the other hand, the growing number of Internet-related suicide pacts are almost the exact opposite: they involve young people almost exclusively; tend to be between complete strangers or individuals with platonic friendship-type relationships; and the common characteristic between them would seem to be clinical depression.

The article also points out that the trend of Internet-related suicide pacts is changing the way that mental-health workers need to deal with depressed and/or suicidal youngsters, advising that it is "prudent for clinicians to ask routinely if young people have been accessing Internet sites, obtaining suicide information from such sites, and talking in suicide chat rooms".

Internet suicide in televisionEdit

  • An Internet suicide pact was the main focus of an episode of the anime Paranoia Agent. In the episode "Happy Family Planning", an old man, a young man, and a young girl meet to attempt suicide.
  • It is also seen in the Japanese film Suicide Circle.
  • Alt.suicideholliday.net is a short film that centers around three internet friends from different parts of the world, who come together on New Year's Day to commit suicide.
  • In the episode "Welcome to the Offline Meeting" of the anime Welcome to the NHK, Satou, Hitomi, an older man, a former medical student, and a young teen go to a private island to commit suicide together after making a suicide pact over the Internet. Satou is oblivious of the true nature of the trip, however.

SourcesEdit

  1. "Suicide as Japan's major export", Kayoko Ueno, Revista Espaco Academico, January 2005
  2. "Japan suicide reports" Japan Mental Health, January 31, 2005
  3. "Seven die in online suicide pact in Japan"
  4. "Six dead in Japan 'suicide pact'", BBC, March 10, 2006
ja:自殺系サイト
zh:网络自杀
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