Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Suicide, the Internet and group psychosis?

When I read the tale this morning of "copycat suicides" in Wales I was a little mind boggled by it. The notion of suicide is a pretty difficult thing to get you're head around when it just occurs once, but when kids who know each other start killing themselves over a short period of time you can't help but wonder what's going in.

The reporting seemed to imply that the Internet might to be blame because the teenagers in question all used Bebo. Danny Finkelstein over at Comment Central has written an interesting piece on this wondering if the Internet is not to 'blame' then might it simply make the possibility of copycats suicides more common instead?

I'm not sure it will necessarily, but the Internet and suicide is by no means knew. I can remember a few years ago when there were people actually committing suicide live online back when webcams first became affordable and bandwidth in the home started expanding.

I think, the interesting point in Fink's piece is that "birds of a feather flock together" and that the Internet simply means that even more birds of a (suicidal) feather can flock together instead.


Anonymous said...


A friend of mine spent some time in a Psychiatric ward.

He said the men did themselves violently and at random.

One girl would slash her wrists, then they all would, etc etc.

Just telling it like he told me.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the "birds of a feather" analogy; it seems to hold water. Like-minded people are able to be part of cliques on social networks, and simply ignore people with other viewpoints. It would be easy to create a downward spiral within such a group because of the lack of outside influence.

Anonymous said...

The "it's all the fault of the evil interweb thingy" line is fairly typical of the sort of woo-woo journalism we've come to expect of the Daily Mail, where I first heard of this.

The problem with that explanation is that this isn't the first time this sort of thing has happened. Wisconsin Death Trip, anyone?

Clunking Fist said...

I blame global warming. Not the warming, but the hysteria. It’s rather depressing being told, by a giant intellect wot jets around the world, that it’s ME that is killing the planet.

When I was a teen, it was NUCLEAR ANNIHILATION. It seemed a good reason not to bother trying in life: all my petty achievements were going to be swept away in an instant. A good reason to get balance in state incubators I mean schools.

Anonymous said...

The first bloke died in 2005 - his body wasn't found for four months.

So that's six suicides in 2006, in a town of 40,000 people. Except three of them lived in the county of Bridgend, not the Town of Bridgend. (see map on my web page)

Annual Suicide rate in the UK? 17.5 per 100,000. So these figures are pretty typical.

There is no "Death Cult". It's just a big media circus.

Debunking the Bebo Death Cult