Before 35-year-old Mitchell Heisman shot himself on the steps of a Harvard University building last weekend, he set up a website called “suicide note” with a “last request” that it not be taken down.
Just days earlier, Emily Staupe, a 30-year-old Northeastern researcher, left a note on Facebook before she used cyanide to end her life, friends said.
Prevention advocates say the online suicide note has become more common — and it is causing them concern.
One of the problems with this trend, said Dan Reidenberg, executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, is the permanency or inaccessibility of these messages.
On a “Web page or Facebook page the last post on there is their last words,” he said.
“Sometimes a family doesn’t even have access to that and then it’s viral and it’s very hard for families.”
Reidenberg said the group would like to see social media sites remove pages of suicide victims in an effort to protect people who may not have the resources to deal with the emotional trauma.
Dr. Martha C. Tompson, an associate professor of psychology at Boston University, said the online notes reflect how social networking is “sort of the medium of our lives.”
“It could … help some people understand what has happened and come to some closure — or it could make things worse.”
Pair make deadly Web pact
BOSTON. A 34-year-old woman in England was so desperate to kill herself that she posted a plea in an online forum.
“I haven’t the strength to do this alone,” Joanne Lee wrote, according
to the Daily Mail.
“I’m not a cop, a cannibal or a murderer, just
desperate. I … want to do it ASAP.”
She found a partner in Steve Lumb, 35, a stranger she met through the
forum. He drove 200 miles to meet her for the suicide after writing an
online “goodbye” message.
Reports said Lee received tips on how to kill herself and expressions of sorrow from people in the forum.