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Former Nurse Charged With Aiding Suicides Via Web

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the everybody-needs-a-hobby dept.

Crime 168

mernil writes "A former US nurse has been charged with two counts of aiding suicides on the Internet, US officials say. William Melchert-Dinkel, 47, is accused of encouraging the suicides of Mark Drybrough from Coventry, UK, in 2005 and Canada's Nadia Kajouji in 2008. Melchert-Dinkel, from Minnesota, allegedly posed as a female nurse, instructing people in suicide chatrooms how to take their lives. He reportedly admitted helping five or fewer people kill themselves. Some legal experts say it could be difficult to prosecute Melchert-Dinkel under a rarely used law because he allegedly only encouraged the victims to kill themselves, without physically helping them to take their lives."

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168 comments

Ok, so what? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31966336)

Killing yourself is, and should be, an individual's choice. Providing responsible and accurate on how to do it without causing oneself a lot of pain and suffering is a good deed, not a crime.

Re:Ok, so what? (5, Informative)

gmack (197796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966366)

Except that's not what happened, this guy pretended to be a woman, made fake suicide pacts and actually pressured people to go through with them.

Re:Ok, so what? (2, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966386)

Except that's not what happened, this guy pretended to be a woman, made fake suicide pacts and actually pressured people to go through with them.

So what you're saying is that this is like The Crying Game [imdb.com] but without the happy ending?

Re:Ok, so what? (5, Informative)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966394)

Yes, this guy is pretty sick. From the summary I thought this was about assisted suicide of the terminally ill. The article makes it clear it was encouragement of depressed, but physically healthy, people to commit suicide.

Re:Ok, so what? (1, Insightful)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966544)

And that's a problem... why? Seriously, if someone wants to kill themself, as long as they are not leaving a burden on the people they are leaving behind, what's the big deal?

Re:Ok, so what? (4, Interesting)

h00manist (800926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966626)

There is freedom of speech, as long as nobody listens. If too many people start listening to you and doing something based on your speech, all your freedoms - not just speech - will soon start being questioned and curtailed all over. Take a look at anyone saying something unpopular, whether right or wrong. In the case of speech encouraging violence, death, etc, if people listen, there will be quite a reaction. Don't ask me if it's right or wrong. I don't think it's that simple a question, with black and white answers for every case.

So now we can't tell some jerk to "drop dead"? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967112)

Better not say "Eat shit and die!" either ...

Next up - legal liability for someone going blind because you once told them to "go f*ck yourself" - and they did, over and over.

Re:So now we can't tell some jerk to "drop dead"? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31967188)

It's contextual. Speech doesn't mean anything that is a vocalization. Vocalizations can be speech, or they can be intended to create immediate, injurious actions, bypassing other people's rational cognitive function.

There's nothing wrong with using the word "Fire" but shouting it in a crowded theater is not protected free speech. Similarly, telling somebody to drop dead is generally protected by your right to free speech, sure, but if you go up to somebody standing on a ledge, who is clearly mentally ill and considering suicide and you tell *them* "Drop dead, you worthless sack of shit. Nobody likes you and nobody will care if you are dead", well you are no longer expressing yourself in a manner intended to convey ideas to a rational actor (speech), but rather trying to cause an imminent action that you know will be fatal to another person.

Re:So now we can't tell some jerk to "drop dead"? (2, Interesting)

h00manist (800926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967246)

It's contextual. Speech doesn't mean anything that is a vocalization. Vocalizations can be speech, or they can be intended to create immediate, injurious actions, bypassing other people's rational cognitive function.

There's nothing wrong with using the word "Fire" but shouting it in a crowded theater is not protected free speech. Similarly, telling somebody to drop dead is generally protected by your right to free speech, sure, but if you go up to somebody standing on a ledge, who is clearly mentally ill and considering suicide and you tell *them* "Drop dead, you worthless sack of shit. Nobody likes you and nobody will care if you are dead", well you are no longer expressing yourself in a manner intended to convey ideas to a rational actor (speech), but rather trying to cause an imminent action that you know will be fatal to another person.

Is there a legal concept of "speech intended to create immediate, injurious actions, bypassing people's rational cognitive function." ?

Re:So now we can't tell some jerk to "drop dead"? (5, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967680)

Is there a legal concept of "speech intended to create immediate, injurious actions, bypassing people's rational cognitive function." ?

Yes. At the risk of being tautologous it's either "political campaigning" or "advertising".

Re:So now we can't tell some jerk to "drop dead"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31967940)

brain hack? feels kinda cyberpunk, snow crashey.

Re:Ok, so what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31966774)

When has it ever not been a burden?

Re:Ok, so what? (1)

sixsixtysix (1110135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31968002)

i'm sure they meant emotionally, which rarely counts. while i would say that emotional damage can often be worse than physical or financial, should we allow pain and suffering damages from getting dumped or teased?

Re:Ok, so what? (2, Interesting)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967114)

Parent post makes a telling point. The more so since the the accused had been trained as a nurse, which includes training in using communications skills and presentation of self to alter a patient's mood or self-assessment. In the nursing program I attended this training came under several titles: "therapeutic use of self", "active listening skills", etc. These can be very powerful techniques especially when working with a subject who is in a suggestible state of mind-- and there is definitely a potential for abuse.

He is no longer a nurse, so he can no longer be sanctioned by the state Board Of Nursing that licensed him. From what is known from the story, he should definitely face trial. At trial, he should be held to a higher standard than most persons because of his training, in the same way that a martial arts master who kills a stranger in a street fight should be held to a higher standard than the average bloke.

Re:Ok, so what? (1)

citizenr (871508) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967240)

Yes, this guy is pretty sick. From the summary I thought this was about assisted suicide of the terminally ill

To be perfectly honest they were terminally ill - mental illness leading to death.

Re:Ok, so what? (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#31968230)

"The article makes it clear it was encouragement of depressed, but physically healthy, people to commit suicide."

Beautiful too. He helped kill this 18 yr old Canadian girl [google.com]

What kind of sick fuck would say "Hey beautiful girl, you want to die? Let me help you with that..."

Re:Ok, so what? (2, Insightful)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966460)

I think suicide should be legal provided that you inform the proper authorities and close up some loose ends.

Quite right (3, Insightful)

Snaller (147050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966556)

Suicide should be a human right.

If society tries to ban that THEY MUST help the person in every way and totally support them their entire lives - and if they are not prepared to do that they should shut up and back off and not prevent people from ending their lives if that is what they feel they must.

Re:Quite right (5, Insightful)

h00manist (800926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966692)

Suicide should be a human right.

From what I know, from a humanist philosophy point of view, any human being needs to have the right to full control of their body. So if someone wants to do something insane with their body, they are entitled to it. Encouraging mutilation or death however, would not be humanist. So if you decide you want to die, fine. If you want to preach people should want to die, need help to die, should be sold equipment, manuals, videos, books, have suicide parties, suicide lounges, suicide workshops, suicide encouragement boot camps, pro suicide marketing campaigns, etc, all of which is speech, well, that would be psychological violence. Thats ideals, philosophy, morality, etc however. The field of law is another matter, and how to word the law so it's not abused either way is not so easy.

I just love to copy & edit such posts (0, Troll)

ElusiveJoe (1716808) | more than 4 years ago | (#31968358)

Sexual intercourse should be a human right.

From what I know, from a humanist philosophy point of view, any human being needs to have the right to full control of their body. So if someone wants to do something insane with their body, they are entitled to it (poenis goes WHERE?). Encouraging mutilation or sex however, would not be humanist (Somebody, think of the children! And hey, we're already past 6 billions of population! Earth is not a clown's car!). So if you decide you want to have sex, fine (Although I still despise you, crazy pervert!). If you want to preach people should want to have sex, need help to have sex, should be sold equipment, manuals, videos, books, have sex parties, night club lounges, sexual workshops, masturbation encouragement boot camps (LOL, WTF?), pro porn marketing campaigns, sexual education in school, porn industry awards, also tight jeans and 90% of US humour etc, all of which is speech, well, that would be psychological violence. Thats ideals, philosophy, morality, etc however. The field of law is another matter, and how to word the law so it's not abused either way is not so easy.

Re:Quite right (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31966820)

I think suicide actually goes beyond humans, and is a very natural thing. Not an animal expert but I suspect depression is an natural animal instinct that evolved to benefit the greater good of the species to deal with situations such as over population, injury, inability to adapt, or other conditions that make the individual useless and of no or negative benefit to the species.

Of course you don't see squirrels putting guns to their heads because they don't need to. In nature if an animal were to become depressed, it would just use less energy defending itself from its natural predators, not feed itself sufficiently, or something like that and eventually *chomp* no more critter.

So yes, if humans want to reduce suicide they should focus on detecting and treating depression, being sure to involve friends, relatives, and making sure the individual had a sufficient purpose in the world.

Re:Quite right (1, Troll)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967322)

Suicide of a person of a mainstream western culture is the ultimate act of selfishness.

That doesn't mean that it may not be appropriate in some instances. It means that in western cultures the decision to suicide is usually made at a time when the person is seriously under estimating his value to his circle of family, friends, and acquaintances.

Other cultures value things differently. Suicide in some eastern cultures is apparently sometimes regarded as a way of protecting the person's social circle from the burden of shame that his dishonorable actions would otherwise tar them with. Suicide in some warrior cultures is apparently sometimes a self-sacrifice for the benefit of the warrior's brethren or for those he has been fighting for. Suicide bombers appear to be a special case where brainwashing techniques have been used to artificially impose portions of the warrior ethic on the suggestible. There are definitely crimes involved with that last, but it would seem that in almost all cases the suicide bomber is another victim and not one of the perps.

Should any of these be legalized? With our current modes of handling estates and insurances policies, etc, probably not. We would end up in a hellacious mess. Can you imagine the circus lawyers would make over the insurance policy of the ex soldier who wrapped himself around a live grenade in the crowded subway? Lawyers, actuaries, and writers of insurance policies already have too much space for erecting their circus tents. Should the crimes of suicide or attempted suicide be prosecuted? In general, no. There might be specific instances where this should be done: I think someone who straps on a dynamite vest should have all his insurance policies summarily cancelled. But these situations are rare in western societies; most of the time prosecution would just visit more hardship on the survivors with no particular benefit to anyone.

Re:Quite right (2, Interesting)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 4 years ago | (#31968262)

So it's selfish to kill yourself... presumably because other people rely on your emotionally (at the very least).

So, if someone wants to kill themselves, it's wrong because other people might get really upset over it? So if someone is sick of life, in pain, or just plain emotionally damaged, they ought to stick around for others' sakes? Doesn't that make it selfish on the part of the people that rely on them emotionally instead?

I agree. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31968568)

Suicide should be a human right.

I understand the guy my wife took off with left a note on his computer's Notepad that became very depressed and was found dead with his soda loaded up with a bunch of sleeping tablets.

Yeah, make suicide legal...NOT

Re:Ok, so what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31966566)

+1

Re:Ok, so what? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31966660)

Prepare for the onslaught of "but suicide is cowardice" posts. IMO, it takes either a person of incredible will (overlooked), or extreme depression (always assumed).

I was never seriously depressed, even after withstanding several (literal) life-changing events that would drive most people mad and permanently change their careers/public life. Suicide was (is) one legitimate option, and yet I could never bring myself to even seriously think about it; I consider it cowardice on my part to not embrace it: bravery lies with those people able to put material objectivism and the well-being of others ahead of their own self-preservation instinct (sometimes, dying does benefit the greater good).

I will never kill myself willingly, and I am shamed for that fact.

Re:Ok, so what? (2, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967224)

I will never kill myself willingly, and I am shamed for that fact.

The fact that you feel shame for this says interesting and rather uncomplimentary things about the society that trained you.

Re:Ok, so what? (1)

MakinBacon (1476701) | more than 4 years ago | (#31968042)

What if instead of making it legal to attempt suicide, we just punished it with the death penalty?

Re:Ok, so what? (3, Insightful)

nbauman (624611) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967130)

An individual choice has to be a rational, informed decision.

William Melchert-Dinkel was a nurse. He could identify and take advantage of vulnerable people, who were clinically depressed and unable to make rational, informed decisions. He tricked them into making irrational uninformed decisions.

It's as if you had a curable cancer and he told you, "I'm a nurse. Your cancer is incurable. You're going to die painfully. You'd be better off killing yourself now."

This is similar to the situation that doctors deal with every day in which a patient who is dying has to decide whether they want to stop treatment.

A patient has to be capable of making a rational decision. Some drugs and medical conditions make people depressed (independent of the normal depression that comes from dealing with the situation of an illness). Regularly, people decide during an illness that they don't want to live, change their mind after they get better, and are glad they didn't die.

Depression itself can be a clinical condition. People who are treated with drugs or talk therapy often get better, sometimes dramatically so. If a drug can make such a dramatic difference, that without the drug your individual choice is to die, and with the drug your individual choice is to live, that shows you how unreliable and irrational individual choice is.

I would reluctantly concede that people who don't want to live simply because the burden of life is too much, and who have been treated unsuccessfully for depression, physical pain, or any other cause, have a right to kill themselves. Quadriplegics have a legal right to refuse feeding. But that's only after they've exhausted every other option, which wasn't the case here.

We give people the right to make an individual choice to die, but not when they're obviously incapable of making a rational decision. Most of us want the government to interfere and stop us from killing ourselves when we're temporarily irrational.

Re:Ok, so what? (0)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967232)

An individual choice has to be a rational, informed decision.

No, it doesn't. It merely needs to be uncoerced. Even ignorant and irrational fools have the right to make their own choices.

It's as if you had a curable cancer and he told you, "I'm a nurse. Your cancer is incurable. You're going to die painfully. You'd be better off killing yourself now."

Still shouldn't be an issue unless he was actually the patient's nurse (or represented himself as such).

Regularly, people decide during an illness that they don't want to live, change their mind after they get better, and are glad they didn't die

There's a serious sampling bias there. The ones who aren't glad they didn't die you don't hear from, because they kill themselves.

Depression itself can be a clinical condition.

So say the drug companies and the pshrinks. They still can't objectively diagnose it.

People who are treated with drugs or talk therapy often get better, sometimes dramatically so. If a drug can make such a dramatic difference, that without the drug your individual choice is to die, and with the drug your individual choice is to live, that shows you how unreliable and irrational individual choice is.

That just shows that drugs can affect your mind, which is no great surprise. OK, you can, through the use of drugs and talk, convince someone they don't want to die. You can also convince them to support the Communist party that way; one's brainwashing, why not the other?

I would reluctantly concede that people who don't want to live simply because the burden of life is too much, and who have been treated unsuccessfully for depression, physical pain, or any other cause, have a right to kill themselves.

I assert that people who don't want to live for any reason, even if they have never been diagnosed or treated for anything, or have been diagnosed but refused treatment, have a right to kill themselves. They have no duty to stay alive.

Re:Ok, so what? (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967714)

So what you are saying is that you support this guy's right to talk vulnerable people into killing themselves so that he can get his jollies? Do you pull the wings off of flies in your spare time too?

Re:Ok, so what? (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967876)

So what you are saying is that you support this guy's right to talk vulnerable people into killing themselves so that he can get his jollies?

I believe that's covered under "freedom of speech".

Re:Ok, so what? (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 4 years ago | (#31968252)

So threatening to kill someone is covered? Wrong. How about slanderous speech? Nope. Nor is counseling to kill one's self. From the way you talk I suspect you are one of those phony Christians, or even a legalist. If so, here is something to set you straight:

Matthew 25
41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

Re:Ok, so what? (1)

a whoabot (706122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31968268)

If it's not wrong to commit suicide, how could it be wrong to advise someone to commit suicide? You're advising them to do something which isn't wrong.

Re:Ok, so what? (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31968572)

So threatening to kill someone is covered? Wrong. How about slanderous speech? Nope.

You could make that answer to any claim of free speech. But if you accept free speech, the burden is on you to demonstrate that advice on suicide is an exception. If you reject free speech, we have nothing to discuss.

Nor is counseling to kill one's self. From the way you talk I suspect you are one of those phony Christians, or even a legalist. If so, here is something to set you straight:

I'm not a Christian at all, never have and likely never will be (unless they're right about everyone being Christian in Hell).

Re:Ok, so what? (0)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31968398)

He had no relation to these people; he wasn't a friend, or someone who was treating them; he was just somebody they talked to. They had no reason to listen to him, and nothing was being misrepresented - he just told them to kill themselves. They didn't have to listen to them, but they chose to - which means they probably would have sooner or later anyway.

Re:Ok, so what? (1)

nbauman (624611) | more than 4 years ago | (#31968546)

I assert that people who don't want to live for any reason, even if they have never been diagnosed or treated for anything, or have been diagnosed but refused treatment, have a right to kill themselves. They have no duty to stay alive.

Looks like we have a freshman philosophy major here.

Where does this unqualified "right" to kill yourself come from? Certainly not from U.S. law. Every state has restrictions on the circumstances under which one person can kill another person or himself. Doctors who have to deal with these problems every day have established guidelines which are close to, but not identical to, the laws. That's what I'm going by.

There are many medical conditions, including antibiotics, epilepsy drugs, anesthetics, brain infection, head injury, stroke, and hypothermia which cause delirium, agitation and self-destructive behavior. People in this condition may try to kill themselves, but when they return to their normal mental functioning they regard it as something they would never want to have done and they are grateful to the people who prevented them from harming themselves.

Because most people want to be protected if they're in that state, we've passed laws preventing them from killing themselves in that condition (and in most conditions). In fact, the laws usually provide that the government can usually intervene and prevent people from killing themselves.

So you don't have a right to kill yourself for any reason, under the law.

You do have a limited legal right in some states to kill yourself if you're mentally competent and have certain conditions defined by law because competent people with those conditions might reasonably want to die. Some doctors would define those circumstances more broadly than the law.

But most people would agree that you don't have a right to for example convince your mentally confused mother to make a will leaving you all her money and kill herself.

Re:Ok, so what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31967710)

Killing yourself is, and should be, an individual's choice

No, it should be your duty! Dead people are green people!

This message approved by ELF, PETA, and Al Gore

Maddox (1)

Voulnet (1630793) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966348)

Maddox playing as a nurse. Well played.

Hmm (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31966352)

If you can find a person guilty for giving advice on ending the lives of two people over an acute period of time... ... How liable should liqour, cigarette, and high carb + fat + low nutrition food producers be?

Is the only difference that she helped them intentionally take their lives, while the enablers of unhealthy lifestyle consumables help people take their lives over the course of years?

Either put the peddlers of these long-term killing substances behind jail, or get your hands off of my rights to do with my body as I wish (including self-terminate).

Re:Hmm (2, Insightful)

h00manist (800926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966514)

Seriously, if they want to reduce murder and violence, they should start where it happens most, where it's planned and practiced in greatest numbers. Governments and corporations, mostly. Everywhere and always. Pass a law saying "no torture, violence or killing, no exceptions for anyone", and presto, you get quite the revolution and shove society into dealing with the future. Lots of questioning and crisis getting there, but a real future nonetheless.

Re:Hmm (2, Insightful)

Kenoli (934612) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966616)

No violence or else.

Re:Hmm (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966826)

Yup, that's exactly the big question. How do stop the use of force and violence without using it yourself. Basically you can't I think, at that point it's sometimes too late, your options are more limited. You need to plan and educate slowly to reduce it gradually. Violence starts at people's minds, hearts, or pain, and that's where it needs to be prevented without resorting to physical force.

Re:Hmm (1)

Conzar (1603461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967020)

You need to find the reason people commit violence in the first place. Why do people murder, steal, cheat, and etc? Resources. We can solve this problem by using a Resource Based economy. http://www.thevenusproject.com/a-new-social-design/resource-based-economy [thevenusproject.com]

Re:Hmm (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967140)

You need to find the reason people commit violence in the first place. Why do people murder, steal, cheat, and etc? Resources. We can solve this problem by using a Resource Based economy. http://www.thevenusproject.com/a-new-social-design/resource-based-economy [thevenusproject.com]

Taking on planning to reduce and eliminate all violence ends up with discussions altering all of society. Economy, to reduce suffering and violence caused by it. Education, to reduce violence caused by ignorance. Health care, to reduce pain and anger. Communities, to get things done with less suffering. Politics and law, to reduce war and police abuses. And on and on. It's the invisible detail lurking behind everything that everyone ignores and laughs at.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31966852)

Teddybear!

Re:Hmm (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966864)

Pass a law saying "no torture, violence or killing, no exceptions for anyone", and presto, you get quite the revolution and shove society into dealing with the future.

Umm, that is pretty much the law anyway, unless you wish to ban using violence in self-defense or in law enforcement or in war which is crazy.

Re:Hmm (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967012)

Umm, that is pretty much the law anyway, unless you wish to ban using violence in self-defense or in law enforcement or in war which is crazy.

Trouble is, everyone with a reasonable lawyer and PR firm uses violence "in self defense", and most often gets away with it. Disagree, become a threat, they defend themselves. The use of force and violence is now institutionalized, sanitized, and invisible. Corporatized. The poor or ignorant, without PR, get involved in "violence". Others get 'briefly disrupted' by (insert undesirable element) and then 'return to normal operation.' In other unrelated news on the next week, there was an accident.

Re:Hmm (3, Insightful)

master0ne (655374) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966674)

except that the person here isnt a "she" only pretending to be a female, and made suicide pacts with these "victims" to encourage them to do so. It could be argued that without this persons "advice" there people could very well be alive and happy. They were not terminally ill... there was no counseling to prove they were even clinically depressed... this person coerced these people into suicide for his own entertainment. I have a problem with someone doing something as deceitful and horrible as this.

Re:Hmm (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967628)

So the difference being what? One has a single "evil person" who does what they do for their own personal sick joy. The other is a group of people working for a large corporation doing what they do for a paycheck. Single evil deceitful individuals should be held responsible for encouraging bad behavior that could potentially result in death, while groups of people doing the same shouldn't? Or is it simply the suicide is an unacceptable form of bad behavior, and eating scientifically proven unhealthy foods in an acceptable form of bad behavior?

The situations are different to be sure, but I do think they're similar enough to warrant comparison between them. What's the real root of the crime here?

Both wind situations wind up with people dead that might not have otherwise died. Both situations involved the direct "choice" of the person who dies. Both situations involve personal gain from the person encouraging bad behavior. Both situations involve deceit. (If you don't think advertisement is a form of deceit, you're not paying attention)

There's plenty of people on this planet I think are extremely deceitful, encourage terrible behavior that winds up directly harming people, and largely do it for their own gain. Some of them even have radio/TV shows! I find what the guy did despicable. But I'm also not entirely sure that what this guy did is, or should be illegal.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31968282)

You analogy is ridiculous, and you know it. There are major differences. For example:

  o The consumables that corporations produce, while being dangerous over the long term, do provide a level of nutrition. In other words, they aren't "all bad". Yes, you could find better nutrition, but it is nutrition nonetheless and therefore help people live. The person in question did nothing to help make a person's life better, just a way to end it.

  o You gloss over the long term versus short term thing as if it doesn't matter. If you help "kill" someone over the span of 120 years or you help kill someone immediately, there is a HUGE difference.

  o You gloss over the difference between causality and direct involvement. The consumables you mention increase the likelihood of death at an earlier than otherwise age, but they do not directly cause it. There are some consumables, like cigarettes, that have a more direct impact, and others like soda/pop drinks that have a much, much less direct impact. But helping someone kill themselves is completely direct.

I really wish people like you would stop and think before posting. Your post is so stupid (honestly) that I would think it is a troll and not an honest, reasonable assessment of the situation.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31967704)

If you're susceptible into being *talked* into committing suicide, I have only three words for you:

DO IT FGT

Seriously - that level of gullibility exceeds even the fucktards who buy dick pills from spam or try to collect money from Nigerian princes. God forbid people like that breed.

Re:Hmm (1)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967428)

I'll point this out again: the accused has had special training (is an ex nurse) in manipulating the emotions and ideations of others and allegedly used these techniques in his communications with suicide-prone persons to push them toward suicide.

In a fist fight resulting in death from a blow to the head, a person with no training in fighting should be held to one standard, but the martial arts expert should be held to a higher standard, since he could be expected to know of less lethal ways of terminating the fight. This ex nurse should be treated like that martial arts expert since he is more likely to have recognized persons with suicidal ideation and much more likely to know what kinds of things to avoid saying because they would tend to aggravate the suicidal spiral.

On the face of it, bringing this guy up for trial seems appropriate.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31968490)

get your hands off of my rights to do with my body as I wish (including self-terminate)

Here in the USA, you do not have the right to willfully end a human life; neither your own or that of someone else. Going by abortion law, human life doesn't begin until after your birth, thus allowing doctors to kill unborn humans.

So in effect, suicide is illegal. As well it should be.

"former" nurse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31966358)

Did she kill herself?

Re:"former" nurse (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966400)

Did she kill herself?

FTFS:

William Melchert-Dinkel

I know this is /. and no one actually reads the articles (just like Playboy), but at least pretend to read the summary.

Re:"former" nurse (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966560)

Men can be nurses to, so the part you quoted (I'm presuming you quoted it because that looks like a man's name) doesn't really say anything.

Re:"former" nurse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31966610)

So you're commenting that mr-not-so-funny-man didn't quote enough of the summary to show that the nurse was actually a man in response to OP's "she"/"herself" comment? Way to contribute, Goldie. You post was as useless as GP's (if not more so). Man oh man - wait, now I've said as much as both of you!

Re:"former" nurse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31966408)

Clearly she reincarnated as a man who pressures people into killing themselves.

mob justice (1)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966430)

It's sad that people are being prosecuted for being dicks rather than for breaking actual laws. Mob justice acts with an arbitrary and inconsistent hand, and has no place under the rule of law.

Re:mob justice (2, Informative)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966466)

The law is supposed to define what being a dick means so you can be punished for it. I think I heard of a similar case (probably in another country) where someone got arrested for encouraging suicide. It counts as psychological assault and conspiracy to murder I think.

Re:mob justice (3, Informative)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966562)

It's sad that people are being prosecuted for being dicks rather than for breaking actual laws. Mob justice acts with an arbitrary and inconsistent hand, and has no place under the rule of law.

He pretended to be a female nurse in order to instruct others on how to commit suicide.

To clarify, the issue is not that he pretended to be female, but rather that he pretended to be a nurse (although if anyone relied on him being a female for the purpose of committing suicide, it in fact could be an issue).

I'm fairly certain that fraud, especially in the context of pretending to have medical training, is in fact a crime based on actual laws.

Meanwhile, he has been charged with two counts of assisting suicide, not convicted by mob justice (for example, being hanged in a tree without a court hearing). He has a chance to prove that he did nothing wrong, or to be convicted of a crime that has been committed, specifically because of rule of law. Your implication that charging someone with a crime based on valid allegations (in this case, based on the fact that the accused admits to having helped people commit suicide) should be seen as mob justice is patently absurd.

Re:mob justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31966748)

He WAS a nurse. Just not a female.

Re:mob justice (2, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966802)

He pretended to be a female nurse in order to instruct others on how to commit suicide.

No, he was goading people into committing suicide by presenting a sympathetic ear, the female bit of course being a big incentive for his lonely victims.

Suicide pacts are fairly common in Japan. You get suicidal people meeting on the net and forming dysfunctional little suicide support groups. They don't want to die alone so they get together to kill themselves, usually C02 poisoning from a charcoal grill. You just go to sleep and don't wake up. Often times the peer pressure of having a group will sweep people along to do things they would have lost gumption for if alone.

These people might have killed themselves without his influence but he could very well have been the impetus to push them over the edge. I've known people who got their rocks off with manipulating people but this really takes it just about as far as it could go.

Re:mob justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31967650)

With 6.7 Billion people on the planet, if you can be talked into killing yourself by some random person on the internet then Darwin has got your number punched. I am not being cruel, hell I have had suicidal thoughts. But if people can't be held responsible for not killing themselves, there is nothing we can expect people to be responsible for.

Re:mob justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31968428)

FYI, he WAS a [male] nurse.

Need tougher laws (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31966458)

They need harsher penalties for those who commit suicide, so they are deterred from killing themselves. The death penalty would seem appropriate...

Die, die, motherducker, diE, DIE! (0, Troll)

h00manist (800926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966472)

All your FPS addicts arses are gonna be in jail for not-so-subtly beating people's psyche to a pulp on the interwebs. NO, it was not 'just a game' -- it was meticulously gang-planned, very realistic sadistic, visceral, murder training simulation, with voice torture, body parts, blood sputtering, resulting in very real psychological damage leading directly to depression, lost productivity, income and wages, depression, anger, addiction, violence, murder, and suicides.

Re:Die, die, motherducker, diE, DIE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31967652)

Its like a christian fundamentalist lawyer.

Utter insanity (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966492)

If the law cannot distinguish between speech and action, then it is a failure.

Re:Utter insanity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31966554)

You mean none of our laws pertain to speech at all? Speech is an action.

Re:Utter insanity (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966596)

They shouldn't.. Speech is noise.. Any laws regulating speech should pertain only to the decibel level. Never the content..

Re:Utter insanity (1)

master0ne (655374) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966702)

so you also take issue with liable and slander laws as well? their put in place to help protect innocent people....

Re:Utter insanity (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966744)

Of course. I would hold the idiot who believed it, if he took any action against me. (say deny a job, credit, rental) responsible. It's like a cop who acts on a bad tip. Screw him. He's the one who messed up. And people have died, and are dying because of it. The one who pulls the trigger is the sole and ultimate responsible party. Slander and libel laws are used to protect the powerful. That's what they were created for. To anyone who slanders me, I can only say, prove it. If somebody acts without proof, I'll go after him. The state's sole responsibility is to counter bad info with the correct info.

Re:Utter insanity (1)

andrewagill (700624) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966888)

For the record, the powerful have the least protection from libel laws. Powerful people are usually public figures (e.g. congresscritters, corporate executives), and they have no protection under libel laws.

Re:Utter insanity (1, Insightful)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967078)

Define "go after", you pompous horse-fucking fart-smelling cross-dressing dim-witted thespian, who eats babies and impregnates women of a different race and is a shill for the Pretend-Nurse Unintentional Suicide Encouragement Association? I saw you littering, this person is a litterer and I'm sure I have proof around here somewhere.

So what happens now, how do you "go after" someone? I turn the above paragraph into a commercial and play it on every American Idol commercial break. You are internationally known as the poster who is insulted during American Idol, and I update the commercial to contain information relevant to whatever you're doing. Want a loan? Well you borrowed $800 from me and I never saw it. Looking to date someone? Well you wouldn't agree to a date if you know what happened to the last 2 relationships.

That's slander, and you say "prove it" - to whom? You buy a commercial slot to simply say "prove it"? Do you know how many athletes and other popular figures get caught, say "prove it" and end up in jail? A denial these days is almost the same as admission of guilt, and "prove it" is pretty much you saying "yeah, so?"

I've only done slander and libel, you say it's no big deal, your reply is "prove it." What action without proof do I even need to take at this point? How do you "go after" me without slander and libel laws? Screw the people who believed me, they're the ones who failed to investigate my claims, right? And how does the state have any obligation to you if you think slander and libel are not a problem?

If you can afford to rebut an international commercial slot, great. But since you can't the little guy just has to file a lawsuit for a few hundred dollars, instead of buying millions of dollars of advertising slots.

Re:Utter insanity (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967196)

Either way, the media is full of lies in ads, programs, news "facts", politics, everywhere. Yes, lying about others (to denigrate them) to the public is against the law, but it does happen often anyway, people with power manage to get away with it. Lying about yourself (self promotion) has some legal limit as well, much lesser, and also happens on a regular basis. I haven't a universal answer for it, but allowing people to say bad things about others when they have no proof does seem like a possible way to socially deal with problems, such as a known murderer which nobody has proof of. Gossip already ruins reputations right and left, sometimes it's true and sometimes not, but it exists already. Ruining a reputation does not exactly kill anyone, plenty of people live just fine with a pretty low reputation. It does make you lose prestige and money, but that's it.

Re:Utter insanity (1)

master0ne (655374) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967432)

you missed his point (i agree with you though) he doesnt intend to "go after" the person who slandered him or is the source of the problem, only the person who wrongs him because of it, which is less crazy.... problem being in this day and age, a lot of people can believe one nut job, and wrong someone because of it.... thats a lot of people to "go after" to get shit straightened out! not to mention some of those people might be "un-touchable" or might not even believe that slander but have to omit/wrong the person because the slander EXISTS and they cant take a chance on their company/name losing credibility because the son of a uncle-horse rapists is now their CFO!

Re:Utter insanity (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 4 years ago | (#31968520)

I would hold the idiot who believed it, if he took any action against me. (say deny a job, credit, rental) responsible.

How would you know ?

Re:Utter insanity (2, Insightful)

h00manist (800926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966586)

While I agree in principle on the absolute-freedom-of-speech idea, there is one difficult question with it. Speech encouraging and promoting violence to be practiced, promoting hatred, planning for weapons gathering, etc. Yes, the crime is in those who practice it, not preach it. But every massacre starts with a few people preaching it, then lots of people going nuts and doing it, with no way or controlling it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rwandan_Genocide [wikipedia.org] -- "According to recent commentators the news media played a crucial role in the genocide: local print and radio media fueled the killings, while the international media either ignored or seriously misconstrued events on the ground.[11] The print media in Rwanda is believed to have started hate speech against Tutsis which was later continued by radio stations. According to commentators anti-Tutsi hate speech "became so systemic as to seem the norm." The state-owned newspaper Kangura had a central role, starting an anti-Tutsi and anti-RPF campaign in October 1990."

Re:Utter insanity (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966624)

The solution is a counterpoint, never censorship..

Re:Utter insanity (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966756)

The solution is a counterpoint, never censorship..

Yes, ideally, combating ignorant speech with intelligent speech rather than censorship is best. Combating violence with law enforcement is best. However if in charge of a situation of a population with low education level, an obviously growing hatred level, several warnings of coming mass murder, weapons gathering, etc, as happened in Rwanda, all motivated by a few nutcases on television programs and radios using their 'freedom of speech' to promote mass murder, well, insisting on their freedom of speech and merely saying they are wrong with no actual effect, would seem to me to me closer to freedom-of-speech fundamentalism, rather than smart government. If I were in charge I would probably just find some law the pro-violence-hate-speakers are breaking and nail them for it for some time while putting something smarter on the radios. It's not always simple or black and white though when you are in charge.

Re:Utter insanity (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966662)

Talking someone into suicide is an action. So would be giving them instructions that would in some other way kill them.

Re:Utter insanity (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966704)

No, talking is just talk. Committing suicide is the action. And providing information must not be held actionable. We must never allow any single, or even multiple groups to restrict speech rights. Hold the actor responsible, no matter the motivation

Re:Utter insanity (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967730)

Giving information != giving encouragement.

Re:Utter insanity (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967934)

Regardless... both pretenses are equally bogus. The state can back off.. Instead of trying to silence the speaker, put earplugs into the listener. The rest of us shouldn't have to suffer for those who can't control themselves.

Re:Utter insanity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31966720)

This is more akin to shouting "Fire" in a crowded theater (which, while speech, is an utterance that intends to create panic or immediate damaging action) than it is to writing a distasteful essay on the benefits of suicide (which is protected speech). Read the transcript from the article - the guy poses as people of different ages and genders, enters fake suicide pacts with depressed persons, and exerts psychological pressure on them to follow through with their suicidal ideation.

Making false statements to people that you expect and intend to result in an imminent injury or fatality isn't bright-line constitutionally protected free speech and it shouldn't be. That doesn't necessarily mean it's always illegal, but it means you can't just wave a little First Amendment flag and get an instant pass.

There's an app for that (1)

PatPending (953482) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966502)

Yup, there's an app for that: iSuicide.

Example of "help" provided (5, Informative)

monoi (811392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966538)

From here [thestar.com] :

Kajouji: I am planning to attempt this Sunday.

Cami: Wow. You want to use hanging too?

Kajouji: I’m going to jump.

Cami: Well, that’s okay, but most people puss out before doing that. Plus, they don’t wanna leave a terribly messy mess for others to clean up.

Kajouji: I want it to look like an accident. There’s a bridge over the river where there’s a break in the ice. The water is really rough right now, and it should carry me back under the ice, so I can’t really come up for air. And if drowning doesn’t get me, hopefully the hypothermia will. Is there anything you want to do before you go? I’m trying to get my affairs in order—cleaning my room, paying off my loan.

Cami: I’ve got everything ready to go. My mom will get my insurance and money, so there will be no worries there. I’ve got my funeral s--- all taken care of. Got rope and stuff ready. Do you have a webcam?

Kajouji: Yes.

Cami: Well, if it comes down to hanging, I can help you with it with the cam. Proper positioning of the rope is important.

Kajouji: Thank you.

Cami: That method is so fast and certain, I can’t think of another way for me. I don’t want to feel nothing.

Words fail me, really.

Re:Example of "help" provided (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31966882)

FTFA:

But shortly after moving away from home, she started using drugs and became depressed. She began taking antidepressants. Then there was a breakup with a boyfriend.

Drugs, antidepressants (which can actually cause suicidal thinking in young people) and emotional distress are a recipe for suicide. The guy's an asshole, but she is ultimately the one responsible for her own life. I really don't see how a prosecutor is going to be able to say that this guy's coaxing was the determining factor for her suicide. Afterall, she was hanging out in suicide chatrooms, so it's obvious that she had a predilection to kill herself.

I really hope that the ACLU steps in to represent the guy, because this is a important free speech issue.

Re:Example of "help" provided (2, Insightful)

Mabbo (1337229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967222)

The girl was seriously ill. Anyone who's dealt with depression has been there, myself very much included. The difference is that when I was there, and I talked with people online, they encouraged me to get help, told me that life was worth living. I was on an edge, and they helped me back off of it. If I had been chatting with him instead, while he pretended to be a medical professional, well then I truly do believe I'd be dead today. He was trying to encourage her to hang herself on webcam so that he could watch her die- like he had others before her. That's psychotic, and downright wrong.

Re:Example of "help" provided (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31967490)

That's psychotic, and downright wrong.

I agree, his behavior is morally and ethically repulsive, but not illegal.

Re:Example of "help" provided (1)

citizenr (871508) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967288)

Words fail me, really.

Weird, I dont see any problem with that chat.

Re:Example of "help" provided (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31967570)

You don't see anything wrong with pretending to be someone else in order to gain trust, then falsely entering a "suicide pact" with that person, then actively encouraging them to do it on a webcam?

Words fail me, as well.

Melchert-Dinkel was clearly steering Kajouji into a suicide that he could watch from the comfort of his desk chair, watching it streaming live from her webcam.

Perhaps if you don't see anything wrong that, you can agree that he's a twisted fuck and should probably be stopped before his snuff addiction gets worse?

Re:Example of "help" provided (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#31968170)

Hi,

Assuming you are not trolling, then you ahve a real problem. There is a definite problem with encouraging someone to commit suicide. You not seeing a problem with it shows a complete disconnect with human compassion.

I'd also suggest you probably have problems with relationships in your life which will only get worse as time goes on. Please get professional help.

Minnesotan here (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966574)

From the quick flash on the screen by the local news, our law might be worse than "encourage". It might even criminalize "inform."

Here's what he should do (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966680)

I think Mr. Melchert-Dinke ought to be writing to his Congressman. In fact, why doesn't he start corresponding with EVERY member of Congress.

Wow (2, Interesting)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966762)

This man must be a 4chan god, a living avatar of Anonymous, the inherent contradiction of an individual embodiment of collective asshattery whose very existence generates lulz.

Do it yourself with Betty? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31967406)

When I read the headline, I thought of this retired nurse who provides instructional videos on suicide using a plastic bag and inert gas.

Instructional Video [veoh.com]
Betty is a nurse educator. In this video she describes how to make a simple plastic Exit bag. This film forms part of a series on the use of an Exit bag from The Peaceful Pill Handbook available from www.peacefulpill.com

Dear Politicians (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31967944)

Dear Mr. Politican,

I think that with all the controversy surrounding all of your recent political decision, you might be feeling depressed. With the various problems and expenses imposed by long-term therapy, might I suggest that you perform the act commonly known as suicide.

In the past, many cultures have considered suicide an honorable way to solve one's feelings of shame and self-doubt, especially when their choices have impacted many millions of people negatively. I think that for this particular case of depression, you might want to do some research on the Internet (aka the Tubes) for various methods involving guns, ropes, knives, or my personal favorite, death by strychnine poisoning.

If you need any further ideas or research done, please don't hesitate to ask any well-informed American. I'm sure that any one of us would consider it an honor and a privilege to assist any politician in such a way.

Sincerely,

John Q. Public

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