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November 27, 2005



How horrible -- and bizarre. I hope that Suzanne's parents have come to terms with what happened by now.

We can see how people can twist and distort things to suit their own interests or warped sense of values. I hope, too, that the person behind this suicide chatroom/egroup comes forward.



Gaby, I was so saddened to read this story. I have deep sympathy for her whole family, and for the pain she felt too. Yet I have no regard for the evil people whose website she visited. I didn't know there were such websites out there. I imagine that there are others who don't know about these sites either, so it is great that you wrote about this. I appreciate so much your remarks, and your insights. Thank you.

Erin Palazzolo


We'll never know the pain Suzanne was feeling but we live in a society where suicide and "mercy killings" are increasingly accepted alternatives to suffering.

I lament what was done to Terri Schiavo and her parents to cite another example. She did not die in "dignity", pulled from her feeding tube.

It is so hard to witness other people suffering, but it's a part of life. It has a purpose. When one person suffers, it challenges those of us around them to respond with love, understanding, and HOPE, not hopelessness.


Dear Gaby,
What a terrifying story you tell. Although I agree that there must be more of an awareness of dangerous websites, your mention of The Hours in connection with a "society today that fetishizes suicide" confused me. The film you refer to is based on a novel by Michal Cunningham, which is quite wonderful and certainly does not fetishize suicide. In fact, I believe it does the opposite. The suicide of the character, Richard, the renowned poet who is gravely and fatally ill, is deeply tragic. We have a terrible sense of the tragedies that led to his death as well as the tremendous impact his final decision has on those who love him. I don't believe the intention was to show that "suicide was seen to be the only way out of a frustrating life" or that "it was rid of its malignant associations, and instead transmuted into a more benign panacea that could bestow the ultimate healing."

In the great novels and plays, when characters choose suicide the message is not that suicide is the only way out. Is Romeo and Juliet pro suicide? Anna Karenina? Madam Bovary? I don't think so. Rather, The Hours and these other works are interested in acknowledging and exploring the darkness and immense sadness that human beings are capable of reaching.

Also, re: the discussion of suicide bombers. I believe that it's possible to simultaneously acknowledge the horror of this kind of self-murder which also murders others while at the same time looking into the life of the murderer. I don't see why the two are mutually exclusive.

But thank you for alerting us to this story about the internet site, which reminds me of what is "out there."


I haven't seen the movie The Hours but I remember in college that my English professor (a feminist) when she told the story of Virginia Woolf's own suicide she teared up in class. It was an awkward moment and later a few of us commented that the teacher was clearly impressed with this "brave" act. (It wasn't just the tears but what she said.) I thought it was lame of Woolf to commit suicide - but I didn't mention that to the prof.

It is really dangerous how our culture can glamorize death. Gone are the days when dying for your country was glamorized in 1940s war movies (and rightly in my opinion) - now we glamorize killing babies and ourselves for no good reason. Where is the honor?


Alexandra: "I thought it was lame of Woolf to commit suicide..."

One needs to be careful about condeming or judging those who have committed suicide (at least to avoid speaking ill of the dead, if for no other reason.)

In my opinion, the picture from the linked article was rather telling. How does one reconcile the cheery, zest-for-life attitude portrayed in the picture with the environment that encourages one to make an exit so dramatic? It may very well turn out that there are no easy answers here.

It has been my experience that different people have different thresholds for pain. Suicide, in my opinion, is neither about bravery nor cowardice. At different times in the past, I have considered suicide. The pain is such that it does not lend itself to reason. It cannot be measured, so as to make assertions about whether or not it is reasonable.

How do I know this? Well, a while ago, I was looking for some "advice" or "assistance", and did a Google query for 'suicide.' The first result was very informative. I have not had to visit that site in more than two years. Yet the fact that it is STILL the first result speaks volumes to me.

There is a term I heard about a decade ago that I still remember today -- "Factors Affecting." Thoughts of suicide do not, for the most part, occur in a vacuum. In fact, dare I say that most life-altering decisions are not spontaneous? According to the article she had been fasting in preparation for the event. Can you say pre-meditated?

'Jisatsu Sakuru' is not reality. The inherently cheery do not hold hands and jump in front of a moving vehicle as part of a to-do between soccer practice and supper. That is a distortion of this phenomenon if I ever did see one.

The post makes the almost inevitable link between sex, violence (i.e. suicide) and the Internet. It may very well be valid (at least for me.) That said, I do agree with the idea of advising "...parents to keep their computers in a highly-trafficked area of the house..." for "fear of embarrassment,"

However, what I do not agree with is the idea of using shame as the first line of defense. The news article shows why that is such a bad idea. Most children do not live with their parents (or guardians) indefinitely. What happens when nobody else is around? What happens when the child moves elsewhere? Could the shame induce trauma that leads to repression, which could lead to depression and suicide?

Laying the blame on the other members of the suicide club is probably not a good idea either. Such people carry on this anti-social behavior, not just in private, but in isolation. How do you bring a shame attack to bear on someone who is prepared to be ostracized? This is no more effective than blaming the parents for not knowing more about their child. Perhaps she decided to don a façade long ago as a coping mechanism? Could it be that she was so far away from anyone else that the only ones who were open to talking with her were the enablers?

Like I said earlier, it may be that there are no easy answers. However, compassion and open communication is vital not just on the issue of suicide (violence), but on the issue of sex (modesty) as well.

Teri Lester

We have our three children's computers in our living room. This is for two reasons, neither of which is to shame them:

1) We can monitor what they doing, where they are going, what they are seeing. They are all teenagers, and we do not stand over their shoulders, but it is all out in the open, and they know that we will discuss it with them if we see anything questionable.

2) It keeps them within the fabric of the family. I have never allowed TVs in their bedrooms, either, because I don't think it's healthy to be isolated in that way.

I think it's a shame that this article presented such a positive suggestion in such a negative way.

abdul rahim

those bereaved parents are trying to get legislation passed, but good luck to them , how can anybody hope to police the worldwide, first amendment valuing internet?
it will never happen.

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