November 23, 2008

A Show of Death

Justin Katz

Such stories give one a sense that reality is slipping away:

The family of a college student who killed himself live on the Internet say they're horrified his life ended before a virtual audience, and infuriated that viewers of the live webcam or operators of the Web site that hosted it didn't act sooner to save him.

Only after police arrived to find Abraham Biggs dead in his father's bed did the Web feed stop Wednesday - 12 hours after the 19-year-old Broward College student first declared on a Web site that he hated himself and planned to die.

Obviously, the technology is not centrally to blame, but I do wonder how much the reinforcement of an audience dulls the natural reluctance to do one's self harm with a reluctance to admit weakness by pulling back from the edge. This incident is eerily similar to the 2003 death of Brandon Vedas, who, although he hadn't declared his intention to kill himself, was intent on showing his online audience how "hardcore" he was.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

It was his free choice-nobody else's business-it's amazing suicide is against the law.If you succeed they will have a hell of a time prosecuting you.

Posted by: joe bernstein at November 23, 2008 3:49 PM

You evince a disturbing neutrality, Joe. Are you saying that we shouldn't endeavor to prevent suicides?

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 23, 2008 4:02 PM

Sure, we should prevent suicides when possible but should we close down the internet because a Darwin reject chose to off himself in front of a live audience? Searching for blame in suicides should rarely go much further than the skull of the victim.

Posted by: Greg at November 23, 2008 5:01 PM

Kind of scary how many of the viewers were probably more enthralled by watching his death than they would have been by the feeling of saving a life.

Posted by: EMT at November 23, 2008 8:58 PM

Justin-I guess you're right,I do have a neutrality about it.I have no problem with trying to prevent it if there are warning signs,but we can't be mind readers.There are situations where it is probably the best alternative.People dying from certain diseases are so miserable day in and day out that suicide is their only certainty of relief.
I'm not at all close to understanding why young,relatively healthy people do it.
I made my remark above in all seriousness-it's not a joking matter-I just think our laws are sometimes right out of Alice in Wonderland.

Posted by: joe bernstein at November 24, 2008 12:11 AM

EMT-one night back in the 70's my partner and I saved an old man's life in the Chicago Greyhound terminal-it was about 3 AM and only God knows why we were at the precise spot at the right time,but it was a very good feeling,I can tell you that.

Posted by: joe bernstein at November 24, 2008 12:15 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.