Advocacy of suicide

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Advocacy of suicide has occurred in many cultures and subcultures. Confucianism holds that one should give up one's life, if necessary, either passively or actively, for the sake of upholding the cardinal moral values of ren (altruism) and yi (righteousness).[1] The Japanese military during World War II encouraged and glorified kamikaze attacks, and Japanese society as a whole has been described as "suicide-tolerant" (see Suicide in Japan).


Advocacy of suicide has also taken place over the Internet. A study by the British Medical Journal found that Web searches for information on suicide are likely to return sites that encourage, and even facilitate, suicide attempts.[2] While pro-suicide resources were less frequent than neutral or anti-suicide sites, they were nonetheless easily accessible.[3] There is some concern that such sites may push the suicidal person over the edge.[4] Some people form suicide pacts with people they meet online.[5] Becker writes, "Suicidal adolescent visitors risk losing their doubts and fears about committing suicide. Risk factors include peer pressure to commit suicide and appointments for joint suicides. Furthermore, some chat rooms celebrate chatters who committed suicide."[6]

William Francis Melchert-Dinkel, 47 years old in May 2010, from Faribault, Minnesota, a licensed nurse from 1991 until February 2009, stands accused of encouraging people to commit suicide while he watched voyeuristically on a webcam.[7][8][9][10] He allegedly told these contemplating suicide what methods worked best, that it was okay to commit suicide, that they would be better in heaven, and/or entered into suicide pacts with them.[7][11] Melchert-Dinkel was charged with two counts of assisting suicide, for allegedly encouraging the suicides of a person in Britain in 2005 and another person in Canada in 2008.[7][12]

Suzy's Law would, in the US, ban sites that provide information on suicide methods or otherwise assist suicide.[13] There have been some legal bans on pro-suicide web sites, most notably in Australia, but arguably such bans merely increase awareness of such sites and encourage site owners to move their sites to different jurisdictions.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lo, Ping-cheung (1999), "Confucian Ethic of Death with Dignity and Its Contemporary Relevance" (PDF), The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics. Society of Christian Ethics (U.s.), Society of Christian Ethics, 19: 313–33, doi:10.5840/asce19991916, PMID 11913447, archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-16
  2. ^ World Wide Suicide: A Self-Termination Community Grows on the Web, Scientific American, April 14, 2008
  3. ^ Recupero PR, Harms SE, Noble JM (2008). "Googling suicide: surfing for suicide information on the Internet". J Clin Psychiatry. 69 (6): 878–88. doi:10.4088/jcp.v69n0601. PMID 18494533.
  4. ^ Hunter, Aina, "Death by Chat Room?", ABC News
  5. ^ Jonathan Owen (10 September 2006), "Teens die after logging into 'suicide chat rooms'", The Independent
  6. ^ When Kids Seek Help On-Line: Internet Chat Rooms and Suicide Journal article by Katja Becker, Martin H. Schmidt; Reclaiming Children and Youth, Vol. 13, 2005
  7. ^ a b c Davey, Monica (May 13, 2010). "Online Talk, Suicides and a Thorny Court Case". The New York Times. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  8. ^ "Nurse may be linked to multiple suicides, tracker says". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  9. ^ Doolittle, Robyn (May 9, 2009). "Nurse urged 5 to commit suicide, U.S. police say". The Toronto Star. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  10. ^ "William Melchert-Dinkel charged with encouraging suicides, The Sunday Times
  11. ^ Doolittle, Robyn (February 28, 2009). "Teen urged to commit suicide on webcam". The Toronto Star. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  12. ^ Monica Davey (May 14, 2010), Did he encourage suicide online?
  13. ^ Kara Rowland (July 24, 2008), Mourning parents target suicide sites
  14. ^ Pirkis J, Neal L, Dare A, Blood RW, Studdert D (April 2009), "Legal bans on pro-suicide web sites: an early retrospective from Australia.", Suicide Life Threat Behav, Suicide Life Threat Behav., 39 (2): 190–3, doi:10.1521/suli.2009.39.2.190, PMID 19527159