The Null Device

Goodbye, cruel world

A 26-year-old Oregon man has been arrested for organising an Valentine's Day suicide pact, using a chat room. Had he succeeded, as many as 32 users of a chat room, presumably all strangers brought together by a shared sense of hopelessness and disaffection, may have committed suicide on 14 February.

The authorities are busy trying to track down all chat room participants in order to prevent them from communicating on Valentine's Day, and thus from carrying out the synchronised mass suicide. Meanwhile, across the interweb, a thousand lonely misanthropes are probably kicking themselves for not having thought of it first. Though, given the existence of the Werther effect, i.e., the tendency of reports or fictional accounts of suicides to inspire waves of copycat suicides, one wonders whether the news of this foiled plan will be, in itself, enough to kick off a tradition of Valentine's Day online mass suicides.

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