holiday was joyful. Now that you’ve had your fill of pie and cakes and have drifted
off into a sugar high state of mind, I’m going to bring you back into the world
No, I’m not going to talk about the upcoming holiday season
and all of the pretty lights and parties that occur this time of the year. I’m
not going to talk about some wonderful Christmas cruise or vacation someone is
What I’m going to talk about is simple.
week, there was a story making its way around concerning a young nineteen year
old boy who hooked himself up to the internet and then committed suicide while
people watched. This young boy posted a note about what he was going to do along
with a link to his website and camera. He was using a blog site from some body
building forum. The young man was discovered by the police some twelve hours after
he had died. What disturbs me is that almost no one attempted to get him any help
or see if he could be stopped. Indeed most of the comments to the blog were taunts
and messages ‘daring’ him to go through with his plan.
How sick is this?
The police reported that only one person actually called them to report the incident
even though the young man had posted his name and address on line. I found this
hard to believe and went back and read some of the comments. They turned my stomach.
Several of the writers said that they could hardly be blamed for encouraging the
man to kill himself as it was comparable to being on the street and watching someone
jump from a building.
“All you’re doing is looking…what’s the harm in
that” one person wrote. “He probably would not have stopped anyway…” another said.
“I thought it was a joke” said someone else. “Even if I had called, he would have
just done it next week anyway, so why bother?” said one lady from California.
all of these I have one question..what if it was your son or daughter? How would
you like to live in a society who sees some harm being done or about to be done
and turns a blind eye to it? Is that what we have become? Are we that cold and
indifferent that the safety and well being of our fellow man is no longer our
I recall some years ago, when a young woman was assaulted in New
York City while a bunch of people looked on and nothing was done to try and help
her. I recall that that this incident made the news for some period of time. As
I recall a number of studies came out on this matter and the attitudes of society
were taken to task as a result. The question was then as it is now, how have we
gone wrong in this country?
Is this the pervasive attitude across America
or just in some areas? Do people in smaller towns and villages get more involved
with their neighbors and people who need help and assistance than those living
in larger cities? I certainly hope so. I want to believe it’s so.
civilized society the strong must look after the weak. I have no idea what was
going on in that young man’s mind to make him want to die. I do know that there
are few problems at nineteen years of age that cannot be solved by just sitting
down and thinking them through with some mature persons with some experience.
Nothing is ever as bad as it seems. No one should ever take someone’s suicide
statement and dismiss it out of hand as being frivolous or joking. You don’t joke
about bombs and guns on airplanes and you should not joke about suicide, it isn’t
one more thing…the police made a statement that had he (the kid) lived he ‘could’
have faced prosecution for having attempted suicide. There’s a sense of compassion
for you if I’ve ever seen one. Succeed and you’re dead, fail and you might go
to jail. We seem to have our values completely out of whack here.
goes out to this kid’s parents and hope they know that most of us aren’t like
those who wrote on their son’s blog.
Or are we?
Letters From North America December
3, 2008 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
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