The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'suicide'
Today's big question: does country music increase suicide rates? The authors of this paper think that it does, and that country music fans are at significantly higher risk of suicide than nonfans, for reasons involving gun ownership, marital discord and the inherent job and financial stresses affecting America's working poor (which are often referred to in country song lyrics). The authors of this paper, however, dispute this, claiming methodological errors and that there is no evidence of country music making people more likely to off themselves than any other genre. (Whether music in general, or music with lyrics more specifically, correlates to depression or suicide risk, of course, is another question.)
A study in Japan, correlating suicide rates with lithium levels in water supplies, has found that lithium in the water supply reduces the suicide rate:
High doses of lithium are already used to treat serious mood disorders. But the team from the universities of Oita and Hiroshima found that even relatively low levels appeared to have a positive impact of suicide rates.
Levels ranged from 0.7 to 59 micrograms per litre. The researchers speculated that while these levels were low, there may be a cumulative protective effect on the brain from years of drinking this tap water.The researchers hace stopped short of recommending that lithium be added to the water supply, in the way that fluoride is.
A new study has discovered the phenomenon of suicide tourism, which involves people committing suicide choosing to do so at or near iconic landmarks or historic locations, and travelling to do so. The study claims that one in every 10 suicides in Manhattan is by an out-of-towner who travelled to the city expressly to die:
Some 274 suicides by non-residents were recorded in Manhattan between 1990 and 2004, more than half of them as a result of long falls from bridges and high-rise commercial buildings, including hotels, according to the report.I once read that luxury hotels are a big suicide magnet, with many treating themselves to a luxurious exit, though this is the first time I heard of suicide tourism as such (not counting specific examples, such as various bridges).
Allen Park Deputy Police Chief Dale Covert said the roughly six-foot tall guillotine was bolted to a tree and included a swing arm. Covert said police also found several store receipts detailing the materials used to assemble the device.
"I can't even tell you how long it must have taken him to construct," he said. "This man obviously was very determined to end his life."This is not the first such incident; some three years ago, a man in Sheffield killed himself in a similar fashion, after telling relatives he was building a toy car as a surprise.
(via Boing Boing)
This looks like a potentially interesting film:
"Heartbroken by a break-up with his girlfriend Desiree, twentysomething Zia (Almost Famous' Patrick Fugit) kills himself - only to wake up in the afterlife: a purgatory populated exclusively by other suicides, where the jukeboxes only play Joy Division and Nirvana, all the colours seem desaturated, and life is more or less the same as back in the real world - 'just a little worse'. Learning that his beloved ex has also taken her life, he hooks up with a Russian misfit (whose final moments, seen in flashback, provide one of the film's funniest scenes), and a moody Goth hitchhiker (Shannyn Sossamon), and sets off in a battered station wagon to find her; the resulting road-trip - including a scene-stealing cameo by Tom Waits - forms the basis of this ruefully funny road movie."And there's an IMDB entry here.
(via Mind Hacks)
Somebody has written a suicide note composing assistant for Microsoft Word, helping you to make sure that your last backhander against the cruel, uncaring world you're leaving is a well-drafted one. No idea whether it comes with a database of Nine Inch Nails/Dashboard Confessional/My Chemical Romance lyrics.
(Note that actually downloading or distributing this software may be a crime in Australia.)
(via Boing Boing)
An inquest into the suicide of two young people in Sydney blows the lid off the Goth subculture threatening your children. Goths, who are recognisable by piercings and a liking for Marilyn Manson and Korn, are into magic and the occult and given to self-harm and even suicide pacts:
Late yesterday, a school friend - a member of a Goth clique at the South Coast high school the girl attended - told the inquest her friend had been into white magic, Wicca, not the dark magic she said some Goths followed.I wonder what the serious Wiccans make of teenage angstpuppies appropriating their religion as a badge of hormonal alienation.
She said while some "heavy Goths" were into self-harm and talked of suicide, it was only once - on the night her friend ran away and came to stay at her house - that she mentioned suicide.I think I've witnessed the "heavy Goth" phenomenon. They'd be the ones hanging around shopping centres in size-XXXL Marilyn Manson/Cradle of Filth T-shirts, pale flesh bulging out from fishnet tops.
Rolling Stone is set to publish Hunter S. Thompson's final written words, written several days before his suicide:
"No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun -- for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax -- This won't hurt."
(via bOING bOING)
Canadian academic Russel Ogden has spent the past decade studying the assisted-suicide underground; for this, he has been kicked out by various universities (and is now doing a PhD remotely at a Norwegian university) and had his research notes (unsuccessfully) subpoenaed by the authorities:
But the biggest surprise was that many of these deaths were not the "good deaths" often described in proeuthanasia books, which tend to romanticize the process. Of the 34 euthanasia cases, Ogden found that half were botched and ultimately resulted in increased suffering.
These people were first- or second-timers, "not serial death providers," Ogden remarks. "They weren't sure what they were doing." He concluded that the lack of medical knowledge, as well as the unavailability of suitable drugs and ignorance of lethal doses, contributed to the additional suffering. "This study showed that without medical supervision and formal regulations, euthanasia is happening in horrific circumstances, similar to back-alley abortions," he declares.
NuTech's approach is to take medicine out of assisted death, with methods that are simple, painless, inexpensive and impossible to trace. Suffocation devices, such as the "debreather," a modified piece of scuba diving equipment, and the "exit bag," a plastic bag equipped with Velcro straps, are commonly used. Most popular, Ogden has found, is the plastic bag in conjunction with helium gas. "This is the quickest way to go; used properly, you're unconscious after the second breath and dead in about 10 minutes," he reveals. Such methods are more efficient and reliable than lethal drugs, but suffocation devices remain unappealing and undignified to people. Most still want something they can drink.
Hunter S. Thompson, the father of gonzo journalism, committed suicide yesterday.
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.
In this pre-Valentine's Day romance-related-article silly season, health experts are claiming that unrequited love is a real illness that can kill.
He said many are "destabilised by falling in love, or suffer on account of their love being unrequited" and this could lead to a suicide attempt. Few studies deal with the "specific problem of lovesickness", he said.
Which sounds like a bit of a cop-out to me; I don't doubt that unrequited love has caused many mental breakdowns and suicides, though I wonder how much of that comes from the biology of the condition and how much comes from the social expectation that, when someone you fancy doesn't fancy you, you're entitled to whine, pout, go all emo and become temporarily unresponsible for your behaviour. For example, during the Victorian era, many women would faint in certain social situations. This was not due to the biology of the female gender being susceptible to sudden consciousness loss, but due to programmed-in social expectation. Could it be that losing one's shit over that one special person in the world who doesn't reciprocate one's passion is a similar case of cultural conditioning?
(Which is not to say that romantic love or sexual attraction is culturally constructed; I don't for a moment entertain the blank-slate theory of human nature. However, it's more than conceivable the expectations of how such urges are expressed, and how much they can affect one's behaviour, are strongly influenced by cultural expectations, and that, as biological and physical causes of behaviours are revealed, they gain more influence as the self-sustaining illusion of the sovereign free will becomes weakened.)
Then again, now that unrequited love is recognised as a bona fide medical condition, perhaps some pharmaceutical company will seize the opportunity and bring out an anti-unrequited-love drug, a sort of Prozac for the heart which quickly and conveniently cures this debilitating ailment, further streamlining the human condition.
50 interesting fact(oid)s about the Tube:
5. Travelling on the tube for 40 minutes is the equivalent of smoking two cigarettes - so save yourself a packet, all you smokers and get on the tube more often.
24. The peak hour for tube suicides is 11am.
36. The air in the underground is on average 10°C hotter than the air on the surface.
48. A fragrance called "Madeleine" was introduced at St James Park, Euston and Piccadilly station in an effort to make the tube smell better on 23rd March 2001. It was taken out of action on 24th March 2001 as it was making people feel sick.
A 14-year-old boy in Manchester used internet chatrooms to arrange his own murder; masquerading as, among others, a 16-year-old girl, her step-brother, and a secret service agent named Janet, he managed to talk a 16-year-old boy he had never met into stabbing him. The other boy was told that it was an initiation into the secret services, and that the target was dying of cancer, which made him expendable; if successful, he was told he would get £500,000, a gun and a meeting with the Prime Minister. It apparently did not occur to him that there was anything unusual about this arrangement (persumably that's standard MI5 procedure for recruiting teenagers in chat rooms).
Update: more details have emerged, and it turns out that the stabbee had a hopeless crush on the boy who stabbed him, and instructed him (in secret-agent guise) to say the "codeword" "I love you, bro" as he did the deed. This is sounding more and more like a Smiths song.
Gallery of the Forbidden, a list of albums, songs or cover art banned, restricted or bowdlerised by the Moral Minority or (more frequently) recording-company marketroids; from the Five Keys' misplaced thumb to that un-American Strokes song that got deleted from US releases of their album.
The MetaFilter discussion of this issue had an interesting tangent about a legendary Hungarian song which was allegedly suppressed after it triggered an epidemic of suicides:
"Gloomy Sunday", a Hungarian song for the violin, was believed to propel the despondent into suicide. Ironically, the title "Gloomy Sunday" has been used over and over since, for different songs unrelated to the original, which makes trying to find it even more difficult.
Snopes has this to say about Gloomy Sunday; apparently it did exist, though the suppression of it was an urban legend. And here's another story which ties it to a Nazi SS officer's suicide during the Holocaust.
I wonder whether the music for Gloomy Sunday exists anywhere; and, if so, how long until some post-rock band or other does a cover of it.
A DIY enthusiast in Sheffield spent weeks building a guillotine, with which he decapitated himself. Kevin Brunie, 42, told relatives that his secret project was a toy car. He was unemployed and was thought to have recovered from depression, and was reported to have been in good spirits days before he died. (A lot of suicides are reported to have been uncommonly cheerful just prior to doing themselves in; take Ian Curtis, for example.) (via Die Puny Humans)
Never let it be said that the Australian government doesn't stand for anything. Its commitment to the Australian people's absolute right to life, for example, has moved it to prosecute people providing suicide information on the internet. I guess this means that alt.suicide.holiday will be blocked by Senator Alston's national firewall then.
"watcht this bitch!" 21-year-old IRC user overdoses online, taking lots of drugs in front of his webcam, while his friends on IRC cheered him on. Suicide or just stupidity? (via MeFi)
A 24-year-old woman committed suicide by jumping from the window of an art gallery in Berlin; the day before, she went to the gallery and was filmed by artists saying that she planned to commit suicide. When she jumped, bystanders thought it was performance art.
(Which brings up the quesion: if she hadn't killed herself, would it have been performance art? And just because she did, does that automatically make it not art?)
Some conceptual artist types have set up a web server programmed to crush itself. The machine is inside an industrial crusher controlled by itself, and is programmed to crush itself on Thursday. Jim, from whom I got the link, suggests that perhaps there should be a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Computers to prevent such atrocities.
Film Festival: Tonight I went to see a Japanese film titled Suicide Club. It was quite bizarre; starting off with the surreal spectacle of 54 uniformed schoolgirls jumping in front of a train in an inexplicable mass suicide. Then it gets more bizarre; more suicides follow, some copycat attempts by impressionable teenagers, and some not. Along the way there are computer bulletin board poseurs, a gang of murderous teenage glam rockers, rolls of strips of human skin, and the phenomenon of a sugar-coated all-girl pop group, who can't possibly be connected to the mass suicides.. or can they?
(The director, a Japanese performance poet and former gay porn director, showed up at the screening and introduced the film, speaking through an interpreter. When it was released in Japan, he said, it came under close police scrutiny, presumably because of its dangerous subject matter.)
Anyway, I rather enjoyed it.
April is the cruelest month: Staying in the morbid vein for a while, statistics have shown that spring is the peak season for suicides. Apparently the popular notion about the Xmas-New Year period being peak suicide season is just an urban legend. (via Plastic)
A man has committed suicide by detonating explosives strapped to his body near Lara railway station (on the Melbourne-Geelong railway line).
Australian euthanasia advocate Dr. Philip Nitschke (he of the Laptop of Death and the floating euthanasia clinic) has come under attack from religious-right group Right To Life for his eminently Darwinian idea of making suicide pills available to angst-ridden teenagers. (The Darwinian implications of allowing depression-prone people to easily kill themselves, though, bear some thinking about; imagine a planet of Shiny Happy People, the descendents of those genetically predisposed towards contented apathy.)
Poetry by suicidal poets contains telltale signs of suicidal tendencies, in the form of linguistic patterns. Researchers in the US applied computer analysis techniques to poetry by poets who took their own lives, including Sylvia Plath, as well as a control group of non-suicidal poets, and determined that the suicidal poets used many more singular first-person references, and fewer words associated with interpersonal communication, thus suggesting detachment and self-absorption. Surprisingly, emotional words such as "love" and "hate" did not vary significantly between the two words.
Whilst reenacting the crucifiction of Jesus, a 23-year-old Italian man got a little carried away with his role as Judas, and hanged himself. (Reuters)