The images on the Web site disturb me, and I squirm as I think of what must have been the final thoughts of the people who I see flash before me.
According to www.landfield.com, the images consist of people who have died due to a number of different reasons, but there are many pictures that state that they were a result of suicide. When I google the word suicide, more than 71 million results appear, offering more choices about how to commit suicide than I thought possible.
The Internet is a plethora of information, and that information includes how to commit suicide effectively. This information includes methods, drugs to use, length of time each form of suicide takes to work, and efficacy of each method. There are pictures, diagrams and even one site that had a person who would come into the home to assist in the suicide.
Web sites that promote suicide are available to anyone who wants to visit them, but they are interspersed with a greater number of Web sites that try to prevent it.
According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the third highest cause of death for people aged 15-24. As of 2001, 3,971 young adults in this age range committed suicide.
The sites that promote the choice for people to commit suicide include the Hemlock Society and Compassion ‘ Choices, which state that they support aid in dying legislation and options for “dignified death.”
These sites state that suicide is a choice, and that it is a choice that is a viable option to life. They recognize that there are many reasons for a person to choose to commit suicide. People gain the acceptance they seek to end their own life, and are offered information so that those who choose to do it have an idea what to expect.
The Web sites that aim to prevent suicide outnumber the sites that promote it and give “useful” information. There are religious sites, government sites and countless others that hope to impact someone before they actually commit suicide.
They offer counseling, toll-free phone numbers, personal stories and anecdotal information about the negative consequences of committing suicide. One site, www.pointlesswasteoftime.com, even takes a tongue-in-cheek look at it, and tries to show the absurdity of killing oneself, especially if done incorrectly.
These Web sites do not outwardly condemn suicide, but ask people who are contemplating it to look at other ways of dealing with their choice to live or die. One Web site, www.metanoia.org, claims that suicide becomes an option when “pain exceeds resources for coping with pain.” It asks the readers to look for ways to diminish the pain or gain more coping resources, but those are not necessarily easy tasks.
What is there to do when there is information like this so readily available? I understand why this information is available, and I can even see that it is useful for those who suffer from a terminal illness. As one of the last places to get information without restriction, the Internet should have Web sites about suicide.
However, these Web sites give so much specific information, they almost play a role in giving people not only the right to choose to end their own lives, but the right tools to do it as well.
There is a strange but disassociated responsibility that exists with these Web sites that can’t be ignored. I know that if I wanted to end my life, I could. I don’t need a Web site to tell me how to do it. I also don’t need someone else to tell me whether or not to do it, and the reasons why. I am fortunate that I don’t see suicide as an alternative option to living, even if I do suffer at times.
In the end, every person who contemplates ending their life has many ways that they can use to do it effectively, and many outlets that are available if they need help so they won’t do it. While the Internet offers more information than I can imagine, I hope that it is not the first place that people turn to if they are contemplating suicide. I hope that people don’t need such an impersonal litany of information. I hope there is something more that they seek.