“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” ― Proverbs 31:8–9
Losing someone is difficult. Every now and then, a family who has lost their loved one desperately tries to tie a meaning to their loss. They persuade legislators to pass bills whose purpose is limiting the freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is constitutionally protected in legitimate countries whose priority is solving the root of their problems while admitting their limitations, rather than earning legitimacy in constantly making crisis and covering them up. Providing suicide "crisis" lines is an example of depicting suicide as an unnatural act that needs to be managed. And existing media guidelines for reporting on suicide are guidelines for covering the "crisis."
Why do presumptuous anti-choicers try to restrict the flow of information about the choice? The main reason is envy. Envy stems from the feeling of discontent with regard to the success and the beauty of someone who has passed away. Envious anti-choicers, filled with resentment, feel shameful and inadequate when they see someone they loved has left them behind. While their loved one has gone to a better place, they have to go back to their routines with a pain in their heart. That pain will give rise to hatred and superiority to sabotage or defame others. Alas, covertly sabotaging or defaming the envied person does not give them a long-lasting pleasure.
Anti-choicers shed tears because they feel inferior in the competition of exhibiting sympathy. They might have the opportunity to grasp the choice and reach their loved ones yet feel conflicted and ambivalent about doing it, since they feel undeserving of having peace and freedom. Being bewildered, anti-choicers craft legislation to modulate the choice, because they feel insecure of being abandoned. After all, the envied person has left them for a better place, so they use aggression or devaluation to defend their vulnerabilities. When encountered with the momentum of choice, anti-choicers recoil to their primitive reactions: fear, hatred, anger, and patriarchy. Their advanced reactions, shaming and guilt-tripping pro-choicers, express the fear of ego-death. Of course, there are pro-choicer's who become saddened by their loved one's departure from the living realm but accept it as the bitter truth. In other words, when confronted with a choice between accepting a new worldview and quelling the fears, anti-choicers succumb to the latter.
(Sweeney, 2017) argued that no one should be convicted of encouraging or aiding an act that no longer is a crime. Since suicide is no longer illegal in the United States, encouraging suicide is not “inciting or producing imminent lawless action.” For the same reason, encouraging suicide does not fall under the “speech integral to criminal conduct exception.” Since a statute prohibiting encouraging suicide is not covered by an exception to the First Amendment, it must instead pass strict scrutiny. Under strict scrutiny, a content-based restriction can still “proscribe protected speech if it can show... that the law (1) is justified by a compelling government interest and (2) is narrowly drawn to serve that interest.” The narrowly tailored requirement would be the most difficult for such a statute to meet in seeking to survive strict scrutiny. A significant problem with any legislation intending to prohibit encouraging suicide is that it runs a substantial danger of being over-inclusive and criminalizing otherwise innocent conduct.
Preventing suicide is a government interest; however, restricting speech is not the least restrictive method of achieving it. Because of the hollow that restricting speech will created when professionals won’t be able to talk or communicate with those who need help to live, such statues will cause loss of more lives rather than saving them. Furthermore, the over inclusiveness and broadness of such statues will put an end to medical professions, especially mental health, altogether. Suicide Wiki is filled with lawful documents—written in subtle language—including police reports, coroner reports, scientific papers, medical literature, and newspapers that educate, if not encourage, individuals to commit suicide.
The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution demand that “no person shall... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Facilitating suicide legislation are different in each U.S. state and the district of Columbia (Ghossoub, 2018). Nonetheless, the definition of “facilitation by words” is not clear. (Adside, 2019) argued that a conviction based upon a virtual-presence theory is unconstitutional, as it is void-for-vagueness. He suggested states that decide to criminalize suicide encouragement should consider issues to avoid vagueness difficulties and recommended two reforms that should be implemented by legislatures—not courts. Paradoxically, those reforms can convict (under certain scenarios) law enforcement and medical personnel.
Having received taxes from hard-working admins, the U.S. politicians threw a tantrum, named EARN IT, to micromanage something they don't pay for it—under the pretext of protecting children. (People who have trust issues in relationship expect their partner to earn it.) Without doubt, children should be protected; however, many kids in the U.S. aren't covered by health insurance, or are covered by plans with high deductibles and limited benefits. Nor are children provided nutritionally-balanced, free breakfasts and lunches each day at school. (Pendulum swings the other way, too.)
Suzanne Michelle Gonzales
When Suzanne Michelle Gonzales left her Red Bluff, California home to go away to college, she was a bubbly 19-year-old with a quirky personality and a smile nobody could forget. She won a full-ride to Florida State University. But something happened when she went away to school: she became depressed and turned to the Internet, where she found a welcoming community of suicide newsgroups (ASH). Through the online groups, Gonzales found a permanent way to end her pain of depression. On 23 March 2003, she mixed a lethal dose of potassium cyanide[Archive] and tap water, checked its acidity with a pH meter, and drank it in a Tallahassee motel room. She delightfully robbed herself from her own life—something that others couldn’t stand.
Federal legislation was crafted[Archive] in response to Suzanne's suicide after she got instructions on the Internet. “I would be more than happy, overjoyed if this bill was passed into law and that it was never used, [because] it was a deterrent,” said Mike Gonzales, whose daughter's death is behind House Resolution 853—also known as the Suzanne Gonzales Suicide Prevention Act of 2009. U.S. Rep. Wally Herger, R-Chico, introduced the bill February 9 after a previous version failed in committee.
The Gonzaleses, who say they've identified the person responsible, became frustrated when Florida police and lawyers told them they had no recourse but a civil lawsuit, something they couldn't afford. In the course of their campaign for HR 853, Mike Gonzales said he'd heard concerns the law would limit free speech, an allegation both he and Herger reject, in their mind.
“I don't think this really adds anything to make it a crime to assist somebody to commit suicide,” said Peter Scheer, a lawyer and journalist. State laws already address assisted suicide, Scheer said, and Herger's bill would not trump those statutes. “It's not any more of an Internet bill than most of the millions of federal statutes that are predicated on use of interstate commerce,” Scheer added, noting that communication by text-messaging, telephone, e-mail, letters and other means also is covered. “This law looks like it was written in 1969,” Scheer said. “There's absolutely nothing in there that would date it after the invention of the personal computer.” Calling the law “superfluous,” he said it's unlikely to pass.
The bill's aim[Archive], according to a website set up in Suzy's honor, is “to prohibit the use of the Internet as a tool to provide an individual with information on how to commit suicide if the information will likely be used in a suicide. Violation of this law will result in a fine and or a maximum five years in prison. If a violation results in a death, the maximum violation increases to possible life in prison.” The bill was named the Suzanne Gonzales Suicide Prevention Act of 2007, or “Suzy’s Law.” More than a decade has passed since Suzy’s Law was first introduced, but it has yet to gain traction in Washington. The Gonzales family has tried to keep the bill alive by getting it reintroduced every few years, including in 2009 and 2011.
Shawn Alexandra Shatto
Following a battle of depression, on 22 May 2019, Shawn Alexandra Shatto (username: Kakabushi) murdered herself by proxy; that is, a half of herself killed the other half by proxy (commonly known as suicide)–and she was given the choice. The choice came from the Sanctioned Suicide forum that comforted her on her voyage. Shawn’s parents—Chip and Jacqueline Bieber, of Newberry Township—grieved over their loss of their daughter. The death of her daughter motivated Jacqueline to stop being a life coach (according to Jacqueline's Facebook page). Being horrified of their daughter's choice, the Biebers went to the state Capitol on 19 September 2019 to urge state lawmakers to pass legislation that would impose stiffer penalties on people convicted of aiding or encouraging when at the time of the offense the person who committed suicide is under 18 years of age or has an intellectual disability.
York County Coroner Pam Gay said Shatto died from ingesting “an easily obtainable compound.” The coroner's office has ruled the death a suicide. Coroner Gay also said she had heard about such websites and that such things, as a macabre part of her job, shouldn’t shock her, but “it’s shocking to me.” “It’s a very disturbing case,” Gay said. “How can people do that and have a conscience and go to bed? It’s just disturbing.” Gay questioned why others online didn't do more to get her mental health help that she had refused herself.
Shawn’s parents described “it” a different way. “It’s sick,” her step-father said, using an ambiguous pronoun. “Not one person said there is another way,” Jackie Michelle Bieber, Shawn's mother, told the York Daily Record—implying that Sanctioned Suicide stands with mass killing. “It's like a cult.” Jackie felt privileged that her daughter had carried the act of autonomous self-determination and created Shawn's Law on Facebook to burn the bridge her daughter had passed over.
On 11 September 2019, State Rep. Dawn Keefer, R-York County, introduced the legislation, dubbed “Shawn’s Law,” in memory of Shatto. As expressed on a radio program, Keefer considered her bill as a first step that balances the desire to impose harsher penalties on people who defend choice with free speech rights. “We need to send a message to these disturbed people encouraging and guiding others to commit suicide,” Keefer said. “Our society will not tolerate these arcane and insensible actions.”
In February 2020, Jackie posted about the website on her personal Facebook account . On 21 February 2020, it dawned on Jackie that her daughter had committed homicide, a form of lawful killing. On 25 February 2020, Suicide Wiki was featured on the news, reported by Sarah Gisriel,(Facebook) the first reporter who covered Shawn's suicide. “It’s like they’re not human beings that have families that see this,” Jackie said. “They treat it [Shawn's successfully passing away] like a success story,” added Chip Bieber, Shawn’s stepfather. “I’m using every bit of strength I have just to do this [monitor the website] every day, and I will for the rest of my life,” Jackie Bieber said passionately. Along with Jackie and Chip, on 25 February 2020, State Representative Keefer said, “The site is abhorrent that they do what they do [pro-choicing], and then celebrate it, and not only that, they’re antagonistic to the families that are suffering.”
Ever since then, the Biebers gradually accepted and respected Shawn's choice. They realized how cruel life can be and turned into choice. Jackie grew tolerance and love for other's choice and became an honorary member of the Sanctioned Suicide forum—a warm, welcoming, and sympathetic family.
'Shawn's Law' was the second attempt to impose restrictions on pro-choice communities. The bill that does not affect the forum will be debated in April 2020 and has bipartisan support. And, for no clear reason, it has Jackie's support.
Social media account: Facebook
New censorship laws—namely, Regulation 28 report, otherwise known as a prevention of future death report regarding pro-choice suicide forums—prevents reaching to us the light of those who continued their journey. This censorship law was came to attention on a jury hearing about the death of a member of Sanctioned Suicide, Callie Alix Lewis, who chose to not commit to life. Callie was in serenity and peace because one half of her had trusted in the choice of the other half.
In response to role of Sanctioned Suicide, the pro-death Samaritans want to find ways to “bury” sites like Sanctioned Suicide. The Samaritans had previously shaped narratives in fiction or non-fiction novels and published guidelines for writing about suicide in literature. “We don't want that popping up on the first pages of searches,” said Jacqui Morrissey, a spokeswoman for The Samaritans, in a sympathy-exhibition competition. “If we can't get rid of it, let's try and bury it, let's make it difficult to find for people so that when they are looking for information what they're coming across is the helpful supportive information first and foremost.” She continued, “But content that encourages someone to harm themselves must be taken down. This requires a bold, international approach to the issue, as some of this content is hosted outside of the U.K. And at the very least, we must make it far harder to find harmful content, maximising opportunities for support and minimising potential for harm.”
On 12 February 2020, 2 days after airing a documentary about Callie Lewis, the U.K. government unveiled plans for Ofcom to regulate “harmful but not illegal” online content. U.K. ministers faced a backlash for putting free speech at risk. In order to make profit of what the U.K. government does not own, there are suggestions that penalties could be up to 5 per cent of revenue, which would be millions of pounds for a tech giant like Facebook. Any failed attempt at curbing what the government considers “harmful content” will result in huge fines for the companies. The government insists the measures are designed to trammel online suicide forums. Hypocritically, “harmful but not illegal” contents do not include advertisements or websites promoting cigarettes, fast foods, alcohols, sugary drinks, and gambling.
Much like Germany, Sweden, and other European nations, concerns about the impact of social media on people come amid suicides such as that of 14-year-old schoolgirl Molly Russell in 2017, who was found to have viewed harmful content online. In anti-choicer's opinion, viewing suicidal contents caused the cheerful and vibrant Molly to commit suicide, rather than Molly had issues that made her search for suicidal contents. When faced with nebulousness and enforcement of the proposal, the U.K. government desperately assembled a partial explanation for the public consultation. Unfortunate for the segregating U.K. government, some of the contents on Suicide Wiki are taken from social media networks that discuss medical topics—excluding suicide.
In the United Kingdom, pro-suicide (not pro-choice) websites are regulated by the Suicide Act of 1961 and its amendment of 2009 (Klein, 2012). In Section 1, the Suicide Act of 1961 also decriminalized suicide, creating the interesting legislative intent that it can be a crime to assist someone in the commission of an act that is not itself a crime. The Criminal Attempts Act of 1981 created the offense of attempt, which does not require knowledge that an act will in fact occur, but rather judges the person based on what he or she thought would occur, given the facts of the situation available at the time of the attempt. These Acts put everyone at the mercy of court's whim, because any legal act tangential to suicide can be considered illegal. For example, selling alcohol or prescribing psychiatric medicines may result in suicide. Many of these medicines increase the risk of suicide, violence, and homicide. Still, alcoholic beverages companies, pharmaceutical companies, and psychiatrists are not prosecuted under the Criminal Attempts Act of 1981.
Callie Alix Lewis
Callie Lewis (username: Zanexx), 24, from Dover, was using an online suicide forum, sanctionedsuicide.net (the forum now appears under the Internet address sanctionedsuicide.com). Through the forum she was able to engage in discussions with other pro-choice members and obtain tips how to liberate herself from the oppression of mental health workers to avoid being sectioned under the Mental Health Act and how to perfect the methods of leaving her life that she had been considering. She was enabled by the tips provided through the forum to outwit the frustrated mental health prosecution thereafter leaving behind her life. Leaving behind her own life annoyed entitled anti-choicers.
Over a month before her death, Callie started chatting with strangers in the Sanctioned Suicide forum—the freedom of speech champion. In one of her first posts, Callie said, “I’m glad I’ve found this site as it feels near impossible to discuss suicide openly.” In posts on the Sanctioned Suicide forum, Callie told other users about failed hanging attempts. After hanging out on the forum, Callie discovered charcoal-burning suicide method and even bought a “suicide kit,” which she later used to end her life.
Callie was staying with Jan. Jan—a former special needs teacher—alerted Callie's mother out of concern for Callie's safety. Jan said, “She felt that if she communicated with me she wouldn't be able to do it, but if she cut me off and communicated with them they would make sure she did it.” According to Jan, Callie had become “engrossed” in suicide websites which were “encouraging her how to do it.” Jan branded the forum “very damaging.” Despite finding a noose and noticing bruise marks on her neck, police were unable to detain her because she was on private property. On 14 August 2018, Callie posted, “The police are here now. My friend [Jan] called them, so we probably aren't friends anymore.” Callie turned to the suicide forum for help, asking, “Any advice for the crisis team? I’m seeing them in two hours.” One user advised her, “You’ll have to play along and pretend that it was just a passing cloud and that you’re ‘getting better’.” Taking the advice on board, Callie was released, and her family were once again left in a frantic bid.
Having been informed by Jan, Callie's mum believes the website played a significant role in her daughter's death in August 2018. “Without those forums, I think my daughter would have struggled to find the information that she was looking for about how to die,” Sarah said. “When we found out about the suicide website she'd been on, that set off an alarm bell—it began to feel like an obsession,” says Callie's granddad, Graham Lewis. “She could have a depressive mood and suicidal thoughts, and that was manageable because you could help her through that. “But her obsessions, you just couldn’t do anything about them.” Her grandfather decided to write her a letter[1|2|3|4] in response.
On 15 August 2018, Callie posted, “My mother called them [the police] because I wasn't answering the phone to her or other relatives and I was intercepted at the station carrying a tent. May get sectioned.” Callie spent the night with officers in a police car, waiting for a mental health bed to become available in Canterbury, Kent.
The next morning, Callie had a mental health assessment but denied having any immediate intention of wanting to kill herself. She'd already asked forum users for advice on convincing NHS staff she was OK before the assessment. She also told mental health professionals that she didn't want her mum to be given any information about her treatment as she was over 18. Callie's care was then taken over by her local Community Mental Health Team, who called Callie three times and got no response. Rules say when this happens, someone must visit the person at home—but this didn't happen. The person assigned to be Callie's case worker then went off sick. No one was appointed to take over Callie's case. It took 13 days before Kent and Medway NHS Trust realized Callie had gone missing, and, in that time, she had killed herself.
Several days before taking her life, Callie Lewis went to stay in Windermere, Cumbria—350 miles away from her mum. In one of her posts she said, “Okay, I'll disclose my location... I'm in Cumbria. If anyone lives nearish and wants to buy a one-time used tent please let me know. I guess I'll have to bite the bullet, buy my 3rd tent, stay alive another night and go to Blackpool to collect it tomorrow. I'm going to look at the cost of getting there.” The truth is Callie was determined to kill herself. She twice extended her stay because her small, green, pop-up tent couldn't be used as a gas chamber for charcoal-burning suicide method, so she went back by train to return and exchange her tent. Riding on the train with her newly exchanged tent, she delightfully sent a photo of the tent, pictured her blue jeans and black boots that she had worn in the cat café.
After stopping communication with family and friends before her death, the last people Callie spoke to were the forum users. In her last post, she said, “Dying now guys. I'm getting slightly short of breath and I can sense the CO in the air. I think it will work this time... provided I can stick it out... which I really really hope I can. I'm going to try and listen to music and drift off to sleep... goodnight... x”. Instead of trying to get her sectioned, the forum users let her make her own choice. “Good luck. We all wish you a swift travel,” wrote one. “May you find peace, my friend,” said another.
Coroner Harding said, “[The website] enabled Callie to frustrate the mental health process, and provided her with information regarding the means with which she ended her life.” Also cited was a lack of training and knowledge in relation to autism and suicide forums, as well as a lack of clarity and consistency regarding recording risk assessments, and a failure to report relevant information.
In her redacted report[1|2|3|4|5], Patricia Harding, senior coroner for the coroner area of Central and South East Kent, complimented the quality of contents on the Sanctioned Suicide forum, albeit she later redacted the forum address[1|2|3|4], too. She did so under the pretense that it was her statutory duty. This was the second time Sanctioned Suicide received an admiration from a coroner.
Her mother imagined Callie still alive at 90 surrounded by cats and cups of tea probably still saying she wanted to die, but that wasn't what Callie saw in her life till age 90. Living till 90 was one aspect of Callie's life that her mother wanted to see. Her family thinks that if she hadn't received the tips on how to evade the NHS, she would meet the mental health workers, and—this time, unlike the other times—she would be cured. Then, she wouldn't kill herself. That's one way to look at it, but there's no way of proving that scenario would occur. In the scenario that has happened, a breaking confidence and mistrust from a friend, couple with police visit, provoked Callie to act on her plan. Even if police hadn't visited her twice, she—in her state—would become volatile and act on her plan, sooner or later.
Without any sort of covering over, Callie's suicide can be explained using two views: whatever happened since she joined the Sanction Suicide forum was part of a series of actions that lead to her death (quietism) or a series of actions she had reached to take (rebelling against social and biological constrains). A desire to do something with life. A girl with mental health issues. A concerned family. A friend who called the police when he realized Callie was suicidal. Diligent police officers. Exhausted staff and overloaded mental health system. A site that gave tips on how to evade being sectioned.
Callie wasn't lost here; she was helped. Somebody somewhere was caring for her. Her family could look at why she reached the decision to kill herself and took steps that the outcome of them were her death—whether the actions lead to her death or she lead the actions for her death. For start, she had obsessive thoughts, so she continued her suicide attempt vigorously. Having obsessions and unwillingness to change the mind frame are against your life when you attempt suicide, but that doesn't answer why she reached Santioned Suicide in the first place. The crux of the matter is the cure that everybody wanted Callie to have, but nobody knows how to describe it. Callie's death can be blamed on her Asperger's syndrome or her chronic depression, and how those conditions were entangled with the NHS, police, and the Sanctioned Suicide forum—above all, she felt stagnated. Callie was living in the society, but she wasn't part of it. Assuming there was no solution (or how-to) for her stay in her social environment, she democratically left it with minimum damage to it.
Callie's suicide was featured in a documentary, Failed by the NHS Callies Story - Panorama (2020) Documentary, available for view on dailymotion and for download from multiple hosts[1|2|3]. The Panorama documentary, aired on 10 February 2020, told Callie's story, looking at the role suicide forums played in her death and challenging the NHS over what they have acknowledged as failings in Callie's care.
In another case, suicide of a man (although not a member of Sanctioned Suicide) brought to attention the stigma attached to freedom.
More than 100 families claimed that online tutorials played a major part in the suicide of their loved ones in 2019, according to Papyrus. Papyrus chief executive Ged Flynn said, “Showing people methods of taking their lives makes it more likely that vulnerable people will do it. The Government needs to act now.” That was another exoneration attempt on the side of anti-choicers who offer no evidences, witnesses, or proofs.
Molly Russell killed herself in her bedroom in November 2017. Her family later found she had been viewing material on Instagram and Pinterest linked to anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide. Molly’s father, Ian Russell, 56, a former BBC producer, who has set up the Molly Rose Foundation to raise awareness of harmful online content, said, “The site used by Callie is the worst and most salacious I’ve seen and very quickly users can get details about how to take one’s life,” sounding like a necrophile. He admitted, “There will be people who claim the Internet should be free for all to use as they wish.” Ian Russell believes that life roams in societies or social medias, but death has no place in societies or social medias.
Bradley Trevarthen hanged himself at home in Durrington, Wiltshire, in January 2018. The 13-year-old’s death was ruled an accident at an inquest earlier in August 2019. The teen was said to have viewed a notorious video by YouTuber Logan Paul, in which the web star visits a Japanese forest known as an area to which people travel to take their own lives. He logged on to discussion forums on websites like Reddit where the subject of suicide and self-harm was discussed. The subreddit was /r/SanctionedSuicide that was banned in 2018.
In his report, addressed to then digital minister Margot James MP, Mr Ridley wrote, “The amount of information on the subject of self-harm and suicide that is currently available to young persons on the internet goes beyond freedom of expression and I am concerned that the extent of such information normalises actions which at the end of the day are simply not normal. He added, “It is totally right that we should be open about mental health issues, but the abundance of information that is out there on self-harming and suicide methods is a step too far.”
In a reply to that letter, published on the government website on Friday, Ms James said, “It is indeed a terrible indictment of the excessive amount of this very harmful content online.”
Australia criminalized pro-suicide (not pro-choice) websites in 2006.
In 2019, federal law enforcement and cyber experts have expressed “deep concern” about a pro-choice suicide website that helped to facilitate the recent death of a young West Australian. Australian Federal Police have blocked access to the site, in an unprecedented move, after a young man took his own life aided by the thousands of users active on the pro-choice suicide forum. They also want social media and search engine providers to take more responsibility. The young man’s father is understood to be strongly advocating for greater action to ensure no other family experiences such tragedy.
In a statement to The Weekend West, the AFP said it was made aware of the overseas-hosted website, which this paper has seen and is choosing not to name, in January 2019. It included more than 288,000 forum messages from members discussing and aiding suicide and a “suicide wiki” portal. “The AFP is working with ISPs to redirect members to an AFP ‘stop page’, which will have links to direct vulnerable users to mental health support services.” ESafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant, who was also alerted to the website, said the office had “explored a range of options and reached out to international and domestic law enforcement partners” to have it blocked. Professor McGorry warned that “we could see more of these cases unless more is done to prevent Australians getting access to these sites.” Eminent child psychologist and cyber expert Michael Carr-Gregg said the Government needed to provide more resources and powers to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner so sites were taken down as soon as possible. Suicide Prevention Australia chief executive Nevis Murray said there should be a “national action strategy.” Mindframe suicide prevention program manager Marc Bryant said search engine companies needed to show international leadership on stopping access to the sites. “We join with others in calling for online search engine companies to take action and ensure digital environments are safe for everyone,” a Beyond Blue spokeswoman said.
On 5 May 2019, Fredrick Brennan says as long as people are able to use the Internet in a certain way, they can act without any fear of repercussions. The only concrete way to restrict harmful content, he says, is replicate China and its heavily censored internet. “China has attached a name to everyone’s connection. Even in anonymous forums, your account is anonymous to other users, but the website and the authorities know who you are,” Brennan says.
“In the long term, these sorts of sites are the real problem areas. They don’t abide by our laws, but they also don’t really abide by any laws. They’re so dominated with the idea of freedom of speech that they become the home of hateful, problematic content,” Tackling the technology may be the focus, but understanding the type of people who use anonymous sites may be equally, if not more, important.
On 11 February 2020, Marking Safer Internet Day, Netsafe, released its Ngā taiohi matihiko o Aotearoa survey results about New Zealand children's experiences online including their view of suicide methods, violent images, hateful content and body image. Nearly half of the 2061 children aged 9 to 17 interviewed by NetSafe had seen harmful content. 17 percent had accessed how-to-suicide guides. In all categories except violent images, females reported seeing harmful content online more often than males.
On 18 February 2020, the Center for Public Relations of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation made an statement about a suicide pact. "The FSB in the city of Kerch, the Republic of Crimea, prevented the preparation of terrorist suicide acts in two educational institutions by residents of Kerch," the statement said. The FSB found that "the detainees developed plans for armed attacks, for which they searched the Internet for instructions on how to make improvised explosive devices, as well as building plans," along with the preparation for their terrorist suicide attempts. “Tests of explosive devices were conducted on pets,” added the FSB. Teenagers also administered the so-called death groups in social networks and instant messengers, in which induced users to commit similar acts. The teens had thoroughly prepared for their attack, not only making bombs but also obtaining the layouts of the schools they’d planned to target. One young teen studied at the Kerch Marine Technical College and the second at school No. 15.
According to the FSB, 15-year-old Danil A. and 16-year-old Artyom Sh. were in the death groups, with ideology of mass killing and suicide. The death groups on social networks, mainly VKontakte, persuaded users to carry acts similar to Vlad Roslyakov. Vlad Roslyakov was a man who had nothing to lose. He was filled with hate and the desire for revenge, not to be mistaken with self-hatred and self-pity. In October 2018, he started "the taking" he had planned for: he committed terrorist suicide at the Kerch Polytechnic, in which he took the lives of 21 people, students and teachers alike, and more than 50 were injured. He first set up an explosive device and then fired indiscriminately with a pump-action shotgun, duplicating the tactics of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who attacked their classmates in Colorado in 1999. Roslyakov was also dressed in black and white like Harris; and, just like Harris, Roslyakov committed suicide at the college’s library after his final self-expression. Roslyakov's suicide was subject to discrimination because it was reported without adherence to media guidelines for reporting suicide; for example, Roslyakov's suicide was not reported as a tragic waste (presumably because he used his life), and sensationalist terms were used (presumably because he included others). The reason mass killers, such as Roslyakov, are hated so much is that nobody wants to be the prey. Beyond that, nobody wants to have anything to do with the creation of or the existence of that "thing."
In November 2018, one of the detainees had a preventive conversation with the police—after he approved the attack committed by Vladislav Roslyakov. In spite of the conversation with the police, he joined the Internet community where Roslyakov used to belong.
The two teenagers, despite being young, had big dreams. They were preparing for terrorist suicide attempts in Crimea but did not hide their plans from friends. They were planing to arrange explosions in two educational institutions to end their lives. At the end, because of boasting about their plans, the two teenagers failed miserably at home—unlike Vlad Roslyakov.
On 22 January 2020, Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, met with the public in the Lipetsk region. During the speech in his 15th year of presidency, Putin harshly spoke about the death groups on social networks and about the organizers of such communities. "What kind of freaks? Where do they come from? They drag young people into suicide and so on. When I first encountered this, I opened my mouth and goggled. I could not even imagine that such people exist," said Putin. According to Putin, as soon as the police came to such organizers, "they immediately almost put them on their pants, in the literal sense of the word." "This scum is doing this," he raved incoherently.
Most death groups have organizer accounts that are often closed profiles. Participants also often close their pages for general review. In the comments on the wall of the group, there are many requests from children who are asking to be helped to die, to become a curator, or to be let into the game. The death groups provide children with psychological support, poison recipes, and advice on various suicide methods.
Some groups are not closed by the VKontakte administration, because the community’s rules state that it does not spread the idea of suicide and exists only for informational purposes. That is, those informational groups act by law. In a number of death groups, there may not be any records at all, because participants only communicate with each other in chats. Finally, there are closed groups where children are invited after they are selected from the groups of lower rank. Those children are identifed as suitable, least stable, and serious.
Why since 2017 was only one administrator of the death groups (Philippe Budeikin) detained? The answer to this question is simple: before the suicide, according to the curator, the child cleans up all correspondence, files, and other information on his or her device. Thus, the curator who chased the child has nothing to be present with.
Denis Davydov, the executive director of the Safe Internet League (LBI), suggested that in 2016-2017, a sharp surge in death groups was a targeted campaign against Russia. "Someone, but we still don’t understand who, still managed this. We haven’t yet got to the bottom of who the puppeteer was, pulling the strings. Now we need to make sure that something new and dangerous doesn’t appear," Davydov noted. Davydov also spoke about the list of 2000 sites dangerous for children. “If we adopt the law on the responsibility of information intermediaries, [although a pipe dream,] then all companies, including foreign ones, will comply with it. A single Russian legal field will be valid for everyone. This is very important, and this is the only measure that will allow us to avoid similar problems in the future. Otherwise, there’s simply no way to avoid tragedies like the blue whales." "And each time we will face it," he summed up.
Russia was a country of significant Internet freedoms. It was in the Russian segment of the Internet that you could find and download everything, including recipes for the preparation of poisons and methods of suicide. The Internet for the child should remain primarily an educational tool—as Suicide Wiki is. However, Suicide Wiki and Sanctioned Suicide are blocked in Russia.
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