Steven Lippmann, M.D.
There are pros and cons to everything. That applies to the internet and even to the internet and committing suicide. In October, 2009, it was reported by the Associated Press that last year a nurse from Minnesota gave step-by-step instructions over the internet on how to kill oneself to a man in England and a young woman in Canada (1).
The Englishman died by hanging himself, using the rope tying advice provided over the internet by that nurse in America. The same nurse is implicated in assisting the suicide of a Canadian teenager who drowned herself in an Ottawa river.
This news first surfaced in March, 2008. The Minnesota Board of Nursing revoked his nursing license three months later after reportedly finding evidence of previous similar and other unprofessional conduct.
There are other news stories about this kind of internet interaction happening elsewhere in the past, including those where personal contact was separated by the two people being on different continents (2). New means of communication offer advantages and disadvantages. Internet sites exist that offer to help people overcome suicidal impulses and seek help. Likewise, internet connections can impart advice on how to commit suicide.
There are numerous internet suicide prevention services available 24 hours a day. They offer assistance and social networking for anyone in crisis. Some people feel freer to make personal connections anonymously online rather than in more intimate discussion with family, friends, or professionals.
A brief list of suicide intervention services is as follows:
National Suicide Hotlines USA 800-273-8255 or 800-784-2433
Crisis Link 703-527-4077
- http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,567923,00.html (Accessed October 27, 2009)
- Janson MP, Alessandrini ES, et al. Internet-Observed Suicide Attempts.
J Clin Psych 2001; 62(6): 478