A rise in suicide among the young seems to be tied to the emergence of on-line suicide sites that offer advice and encouragement to kill oneself. The Telegraph [London] reports that, as an example, one village in Wales has seen a significant spike in suicides among the young.
Patrick Sawer reports that Internet "suicide gurus" in Europe and the United States are encouraging vulnerable people to end their lives. Some offer detailed advice on technique. Others simply offer strong encouragement to commit suicide. Apparently, a growing number of young people are visiting these sites and following the advice.
As Sawer reports:
One of the most notorious figures on the internet suicide scene is Nagasiva Yronwode, a self-confessed satanist who runs a shop selling occult books and charms in the small Californian town of Forestville, north of San Francisco.
Yronwode, 46, describes himself as the "outreach director" for an extremist cult called the Church of Euthanasia, which advocates suicide as a means of saving the world from the effects of overpopulation.
Writing under the name Boboroshi, he has edited a suicide guide, which details various methods. Yronwode's own website contains links to online suicide discussion boards and forums.
He told this newspaper: "The guide is there to make it easier for people who opt for suicide to carry it out. The purpose of my information is empowerment for competent human beings who have an interest in ending their lives. What's the problem with that?
The approach of the sites might seem unlikely to influence many visitors toward suicide, but the fact is that many visitors are obviously troubled and in a state of mind that is open to the suggestion.
From the report:
Paul Kelly, co-founder of Papyrus [a group seeking to prevent teen suicides], whose 18-year-old son Simon killed himself after visiting a suicide website, said: "There is a growing number of parents out there who can say the internet has played a role in the deaths of their children.
"The internet offers factual advice which is accessible within seconds. This is particularly dangerous with young people, who often work on impulse.
This seems to be an important point. The impulsiveness of the young, combined with access to sites like these, can lead to deadly disaster. Many parents underestimate the dangers of the Internet and allow their teenage children (and sometimes even younger) virtually unrestricted access to Internet sites.
The Internet is an incredible technology and information system, but it brings as many dangers and benefits. Wise parents will see this warning as another reminder that teens and children should not be allowed unrestricted access to computers and the Internet. Put the computer in a visible place -- not in the teen's bedroom -- and use filtering and tracking software.
After all, you don't want your children to be reached by the "outreach director" of the Church of Euthanasia.