Almost every person in almost every part of the world today has access to the world wide web. People use it to learn, to do research, to email, and to communicate with the rest of the world – not just their own friends and family members but complete and utter strangers.
Sadly, the internet has lead to another increase in communication tactics – suicide pacts. People from a variety of backgrounds, ages and professions, all log in to websites with the specific intention of finding a suicide partner. People who visit such sites do not try to stop them, but instead give them advice on how to properly commit suicide. Their eerie motto seems to be: ‘if you are going to do, you may as well do it right’.
In fact, in 2008 alone, Japanese police received 121 reports of internet users who had written a suggestion of their suicide attempt online in a chat room or message board.
Of these people, the Japanese police were able to talk 72 people out of committing suicide, including 9 people who were in the middle to attempting their own suicide.
The Japanese police could not locate 16 other people, whilst 33 cases were eventually filed as being a hoax.
Due to Japan’s economic downturn, suicides have been steadily on the rise, leading to approximately 30,000 Japanese suicides per year – one of the highest suicides rates in the world.
Japan does not have any national plan or organization to assist in educating people about the realities of suicide. There is no suicide prevention hotline currently in effect in Japan.
Last year, a 19 year old boy living in Pembroke Pines, Florida, died after announcing via his webcam on a bodybuilding website that he intended to kill himself.
Some of the viewers on the site cruelly egged him on, whilst others tried to persuade him out of it. With his webcam running, he took an overdose of painkillers and apparently when to sleep. The camera kept running for a total of 12 hours before someone became alarmed and notified the website’s moderator who was able to contact local police.
However, not all of the suicide stories end in grief. Last week a young man living in New Zealand typed out a message to one particular website detailing that he felt sad and depressed. He then asked the other members of the discussion website what would happen to him if he took a large quantity of pills.
This immediately sent alarm bells ringing for the site’s administrator. Without any hesitation, the American website administrator started to search online to find an email address for the New Zealand Police Department, so that he could alert them of the suicide threat.
Luckily he was able to locate such an email address at the end of a media release of a New Zealand police report.
This police department then immediately forwarded the information to the police’s southern communications center. Here it was revealed that the man in question had actually used a Tauranga address when he first registered on the website.
Next staff from the Tauranga police department went to the address only to discover that the man was now living in Canterbury.
Julie Brown, the team leader for the southern communications center, called the depressed man in an attempt to verify his true state of mind and being, as well as to obtain his correct address.
A police magazine called Ten One, noted that the man has seemed quite relieved to speak with Ms. Brown.
“He confirmed that he felt like he had run out of choices and needed help to manage the situation.”
Soon after that phone conversation, a police patrol car arrived outside of his house and drove the man to mental health care center in Canterbury.
The internet site administrator later received an email from the man and the mental health care center thanking him for acting so quickly in response to the man’s plea for help.
The internet does indeed hold great power when it comes to helping other people, whether they are across the globe or across the street. Rob Lee, a New Zealand spokesman stated:
“It just shows how technology can span both nationally and internationally to get an outcome like this. We’re just very pleased that the outcome was successful in terms of the man’s health and wellbeing and for that of his family. The world has become a very small place via technology and it’s changing very quickly.”
On the other side of the world, the American administrator stated that he too was relieved to hear that his prompt actions prevented the man from actually going through with his original plan.
“This was a rare opportunity to reach halfway around the world to try and help someone.”
Photo Credit: geerlingguy