Internet Celebrity and Teenage Suicide

Not sure if anyone has been following the recent stories out of Britain about the rash of teen suicides perhaps motivated by wanting a kick-ass memorial page online. I have been riveted this story, not just for the macabre phenomenon, but also what it says about everyone's favorite modern medium.

Here are some chunks from a "Times Online" article and a link. I'd love to hear your thoughts..

quote:

January 24, 2008
Fashionable website where teenage suicides are a cause for celebration

As police try to fathom what persuaded seven young people to take their lives in the South Wales town of Bridgend, the role of the internet has come under increasing scrutiny: as a social networking link between suicidal teenagers, as a guide to self- destruction and even, perhaps, as a tragic route to posthumous celebrity.

There is a growing debate over the internet and suicide. Police fear that the prestige of having a memorial website, where friends come to mourn and pay tribute online, may have contributed to the spate of suicides....

Within hours of the death of Natasha Randall, 17, last Thursday, a site dedicated to her name appeared on the web, with photographs, poems and tributes. By yesterday afternoon nearly 3,000 people had logged on to the site for the girl known as Tasha. A posting chosen at random declared: "Love you loads your a star && always well be 4eva xx".

It is the element of "stardom" that most alarms psychologists, who fear that the glorification of teenage suicide on the internet may encourage others to follow suit. Tasha's earlier tribute to her friend Liam Clark, who killed himself shortly after Christmas, was similar in tone to the dozens that now festoon her own memorial website: "RIP, Clarky boy!! gonna miss ya! always remember the gd times!"..

The suicides in Bridgend are only the latest evidence of a growing and deeply disturbing link between suicide and the internet. Debate has centred on suicide chat rooms, in which users may be encouraging others to kill themselves, and on websites that offer information on different ways to commit suicide...

For many young people, the internet has taken the place of other, more traditional, forms of interaction between peers. Psychologists say that teenagers who are unwilling to air their problems with adults or face to face with friends may be more willing to discuss such matters through social networking websites. But there is also a danger of encouraging and perhaps exaggerating mutual unhappiness, potentially leading to collective or copycat behaviour.



http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article3241490.ece
Original Post
This is so sad. I just saw a story on TV last night about a 13 year old boy who killed himself because a suicide website and the boy who built it encouraged him to do so. It says a lot about our youth today. Is there nothing of interest for these kids other than the possibility of being worshipped after death as a "star"? This is disturbing beyond belief to me. They all want to be famous so bad that they are willing to kill themselves to attain it. Thanks Paris Hilton.

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