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Suzy, a 19 year old college student, had sought support for her depression on the Internet in January, 2003. She found a Usenet group: alt.suicide.holiday (ASH). ASH played at least some role in the death of Suzy Gonzales on March 23, 2003. Her family, best friend, and the Tallahassee police were notified of her death by time-delayed e-mails that she had prepared with the help of another member of the ASH online community. At that time, Gonzales' death was the 14th confirmed suicide associated with the online discussion group. An additional 14 suicides were listed by the group as "success stories," but cannot be verified. The number of deaths related to this group may be much higher. The site teaches you the most efficient and painless ways to kill yourself through simple downloads. You don't have to chat with anyone. Chances are pretty good, if you visited ASH, you weren't referred for professional help.
ASH is a Usenet newsgroup; it is not a website. Because ASH is a non-moderated Usenet newsgroup, it is technically impossible to ban any person from posting whatever they want. Participants who share the core values that have developed around the group are called "ashers." Newcomers are traditionally greeted with, "Welcome to ASH, sorry you're here". ASH contains a "methods file" for suicidal individuals, as well as many others, shall we say, comprehensive hints for a successful exit from a painful life. Then again, so do numerous books, such as Final Exit by Derek Humphry and The Peaceful Pill Handbook by Philip Nitschke. Numerous step by step suicide guides are also readily available to anyone who can navigate the internet. One internet site boasts: "Suicide Methods: The largest suicide manual available."
Warning: This article is written for law enforcement officers for training purposes only. It is intended to give a LEO a lesson in the harsh reality related to the internet's role in assisting suicidal subjects complete their own death. The quotes contained are from several internet sources, and are provided to allow an officer to read exactly what information is available to an adolescent or young adult. If you are in law enforcement and need information on accessing these sites for additional training, please contact Lawofficer.com Senior Editor Crawford Coates atC.Coates@Elsevier.com
"By mixing toilet cleaner with pesticide, anyone can make a cloud of deadly hydrogen sulfide gas. If the concentration is too low it won't work, however, in large inhaled doses death is pretty certain. So how much do you need to take, to make sure?" Recipes are available on the web.
In fact you can find recipes/directions for just about any method of suicide with a few clicks on the keypad. For example:
- Cyanide poisoning ("50 mg hydrogen cyanide gas, 200-300 mg cyanide salts")
- Ricin-Castor oil plant ("Dosage: death has occurred from eating 1 bean, but take more than 10")
- Heroin ("Dosage: 120 to 500 mg in non-users")
- Bullet ("Note: fill mouth with water, aim about 45 degrees from vertical, this is reliable since shockwave from water will kill instantly.")
Don't know how to acquire cyanide? No problem, chat rooms have the answers....
- Question: "Hi! Could someone post information on cyanide? Namely, how to extract it from apricot kernels, or where to locate information to that effect? Thank you!"
- Answer: "Cyanide is found in pear seeds, as well, and is very simple to extract. All you have to do is get about 1/2-1 lb. of seeds, then dry them; after that, crush them into a powder, and mix said powder into your favorite juice, some mashed potatoes, et cetera."
Sites also give helpful hints on how to buy cyanide; "Take up photography. Cyanide is a needed chemical in certain film-processing techniques...or jewelry-making, since cyanide is apparently used to clean impurities from old gold."
If cyanide poisoning is not your method of choice; there are helpful hints on slashing your wrists: "If you want to cut your wrists, cut along the blue line (vein) on the underside of your wrist, but cut deeply so that the artery underneath is exposed. Cut this lengthways with a razor or similar. The traditional hot bath does help, since it keeps the blood flowing quickly, slows down clotting, and is nice to lie back and relax in. Position yourself so that your wrists don't fall inwards against your body, blocking off blood flow."
In a "Suicide for Dummies" format you can learn the possible consequences for failing to die. For example, electrocution is pretty risky: "Don't bother with 110 or 240 volt mains, it's just not enough. Some people do get killed with household electricity, but only after several minutes. Use high tension lines; stand in bare feet on waterlogged ground (better still; put a piece of THICK copper cable into the nearest river). Works best if current path travels through your head, or through the heart. Just burns you badly otherwise. NOTE: people have survived massive high-voltage, high-current shocks with nothing but 3rd degree burns to show for it. Sometimes paralysis, limbs amputated etc."